Brussels (Brussels Morning) The EU will try to keep Afghan refugees in the neighbouring countries and away from the Union, fearing a repeat of the 2015 migrant wave which overwhelmed many of its asylum processing capacities.
A joint statement by the EU27 interior ministers, released after a Tuesday emergency meeting in Brussels, stressed that the EU member states stand determined to “prevent the recurrence of uncontrolled large-scale migration”.
Aiming to stave off refugees from heading towards the Union, Brussels plans to provide financial and technical assistance to Afghanistan’s neighbours, so they can provide “protection, dignified and safe reception conditions and sustainable livelihood for refugees and host communities”.
The ministers’ statement also emphasised that the goal is to ensure those in need will receive adequate protection “primarily in the region”, stressing that the Union remains determined to protect its external borders and “prevent unauthorised entries”.
The assistance to Afghanistan’s neighbours is expected to take the form of the 2016 deal with Turkey, in which the EU is providing billions in funding for migrant-related projects in return for the country housing refugees and migrants who were presumably headed for EU countries.
Despite EU fears of a fresh migrant wave, migration observers claim the current situation is very different compared to 2015, with a massive influx of Afghan refugees unlikely to reach the EU. French NGO Res Publica programme director Yves Pascouau told RFI that the number of people reaching Europe’s borders will not be as high as expected.
According to Pascouau, the majority of Afghans with children and elderly relatives will stay close to home, looking for immediate protection, and will not chance the trek through Iran and Turkey to get to the EU.
Turkey has already started erecting border fences to stop the migrants, and notes it has already fulfilled its moral and humanitarian responsibilities, housing nearly four million refugees, around 300,000 of which are Afghans. Pakistan has likewise said it will not accept any more Afghan refugees, though it plans to keep the borders open for now.