Thursday

17th Jan 2019

EU mulls 'migrant' terminal at Kabul airport

  • Kabul's international airport (Photo: UR-SDV)

The EU and Afghanistan are looking into creating a new terminal at Kabul's airport designed specifically for migrants rejected by EU states.

The plan is part of a broader deal on stepping up the returns of rejected asylum seekers from the EU to Afghanistan signed over the weekend.

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The deal, made public on Monday (4 October), says "both sides will explore the possibility to build a dedicated terminal for return in Kabul airport".

The agreement intends to quickly dispatch Afghan nationals with no legal rights back to Afghanistan despite the overall lack of security in the war-torn country.

The EU will cover all travel costs and help finance an Afghan-led campaign to tell people not to make the journey.

But the return agreement appears to contradict an internal document from the European Council, representing member states, which earlier this year said security is actually getting worse in Afghanistan.

"Due to the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, as well as pressure on Afghans in Pakistan and Iran, there is a high risk of further migratory flows to Europe," noted the internal document.

Despite the spiralling insecurity, the EU and member states want to send as many people back as possible although a limit of 50 Afghans per chartered flight has been imposed for the six months of the agreement.

It also opens the possibility of mistakes. In case they send the wrong person, they agreed to take them back to Europe. But details have yet to sorted.

Instead, the agreement notes that "any person readmitted by Afghanistan who, it later emerges, is not of Afghan nationality" will be returned to Europe.

The return agreement was made in the lead up to a two-day summit in Brussels on Afghanistan. On Tuesday, the two sides discussed how to empower women in the country.

Afghans were the second largest group of asylum seekers that entered the EU last year. Some 213,000 made the journey, many of them unaccompanied minors.

The Geneva-based International Organisation for Migration says the top three countries of origin of arrivals so far this year are Syria (78,572), Afghanistan (40,791) and Iraq (25,092).

Eight EU states take migrants stranded on NGO boats

France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Romania have agreed to relocate the 49 migrants stuck on two NGO boats moored, for almost three weeks, off Malta's coast.

NGO Mediterranean rescue standoff exposes EU rift

Conditions on the Dutch flagged Sea-Watch 3, an NGO boat with 32 rescued migrants onboard, continue to deteriorate - as EU states refuse to take them in. The youngest on board is a one-year old infant.

Analysis

Goodnight, Vienna! Mixed bag from Austrian presidency

When Austria took over the EU presidency, chancellor Sebastian Kurz declared that his government - in a coalition with the far-right FPO - would use its six-months tenure to promote what he called "a Europe that protects".

EU leaders stuck on asylum reform

Migration was overshadowed by Brexit at the EU summit, with leaders stuck on key legislation. Some warned that free movement could be at risk.

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