Sunday

24th Sep 2017

EU steps up efforts to repatriate Afghans

  • Women and children will also be sent back to Afghanistan under terms of deal (Photo: DVIDSHUB)

The EU is seeking to send migrants back to war-torn Afghanistan as a part of a broader policy to return rejected asylum seekers and others who refuse to be deported voluntarily.

On Tuesday (4 October) senior officials from both sides are set to meet to launch the so-called EU-Afghanistan Joint Way Forward agreement that they signed over the weekend.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

EU states will be able to charter an unlimited number of flights to Kabul, reports The Guardian newspaper, which has seen a copy of the yet-to-be made public agreement.

Each flight can carry a maximum of 50 Afghans who refused to return on a voluntary basis for first six months of the agreement, reports the paper.

The latest deal follows an extensive report on Afghanistan last month by the Malta-based European Asylum Support Office (EASO), which warned that insecurity in the country is spiralling out of control.

EASO said, citing Dutch government sources, that Afghan authorities are unable to provide protection against violence with the possible exception of some areas in Kabul.

"A new trend is that an equal amount of civilian casualties in ground engagements is attributed to pro-government forces and insurgents respectively," noted the EASO report.

The UN agency in Afghanistan (UNAMA) had also documented the highest level of civilian casualties, since record taking started, in the first six months of 2015 alone.

The deal was made in the lead up to a two-day summit in Brussels on aid to Afghanistan.

No future

Abdul Ghafoor, a refugee rights activist who was deported from Norway in 2013, told this website from Kabul in September that insecurity is rife throughout the country and that the government has failed to deliver on reform promises.

"Young Afghans don't see any future in Afghanistan and most are stuck in Kabul because they can't travel to the provinces," he said.

Those returned to Kabul are left to fend for themselves. With no jobs and future prospects, many make second attempts to reach the EU, he said.

On Monday, the Taliban stormed the city of Kunduz with fighting reportedly still ongoing. They have also been threatening the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah in southern Helmand.

Fighting flared in August when the US sent over 100 troops to Lashkar Gah to battle the Taliban. The US deployment to the embattled city was reportedly the first since the 2014 troop withdrawal.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of the 2.7 million Afghan refugees are found in Iran and Pakistan. Last year, some 178,000 attempted to reach Europe – around four times as many as in 2014.

The spike has spooked EU policy makers and leaders into stepping up returns and readmission agreements with countries.

The EU's new border and coast guard agency, set to be fully operational before the end of year, has dedicated European Return Intervention Teams to escort unwanted people back to their home countries.

“Just 10 of the world’s 193 countries host more than half its refugees. A small number of countries have been left to do far too much just because they are neighbours to a crisis," said Amnesty International chief Salil Shetty in a statement.

In a report released on Tuesday, the rights group highlighted the stark differences between how many Syrian refugees are hosted in Jordan (665,000) and Lebanon (1.1 million) when compared to EU states.

EU asylum return focus expands police scrutiny

EU interior ministers agreed to start legislative talks with the EU parliament to expand the scope of an asylum database, Eurodac, to include migrants and stateless people.

Asylum seekers create EU 'limbo' nation

The number of asylum seekers "in limbo" in the EU is likely to be greater than the combined populations of Cyprus and Malta, estimates indicate.

EU to step up migrant returns

After Juncker's state of the union speech, the EU Commission is set to propose many new measures on migration before the end of the year, with an emphasis on returns, legal routes, and "solidarity" with African states.

News in Brief

  1. EU to hail 'aspirations' of former Soviet states
  2. UK says credit downgrade was wrong
  3. Dutch state appeals ban on taking air-polluting measures
  4. May proposes 2-year transition period after Brexit
  5. May to call on EU's 'sense of responsibility'
  6. Catalonia has 'contingency plans' for independence vote
  7. Last German polls confirm Merkel's lead
  8. EU to step up sanctions on North Korea

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEEU Finance Ministers Agreed to Develop New Digital Taxation Rules
  2. Mission of China to the EUGermany Stands Ready to Deepen Cooperation With China
  3. World VisionFirst Ever Young People Consultation to Discuss the Much Needed Peace in Europe
  4. European Jewish CongressGermany First Country to Adopt Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  6. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  7. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  10. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  11. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  12. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel