One of the most severe and visible consequences of the crisis in Afghanistan has been the influx of Afghan refugees seeking to flee the country because of the chaos resulting from Western actions in the country.
Refugees don’t have many choices. Air communication with the outside world has been severed, so the main wave of migrants has been in neighboring states so far. But it is not yet clear where the Afghans will go next and whether they will become a problem for the world community. The fate of most of these people depends on the decision of neighboring states – Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Many refugees would like to get to Europe, but it will be much harder for them than it was for the Syrians in 2015. The journey is longer, and public opinion in the EU is now unfriendly. If migrants dare to take the long journey, they will face the sea, mountains, artificial walls, state borders of Iran, Turkey and Greece. An obstacle course that not everyone can cope with. Today we see that Tajikistan already has refugee camps, and Uzbekistan has resisted but is now also preparing to accept settlers. However, it is possible that fleeing to Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, the Afghans, following many other migrants from these countries, will seek to move to Russia or pass through it further towards the West.
Pakistan and Iran have their own relations with Kabul. Therefore they are indeed preparing for an influx of Afghan refugees by placing temporary tent camps on the Afghan border with the right to receive refugees. The conditions there are consistent with the difficult economic situation of both states. Statistics show: 36% of Afghans who have ever fled to Pakistan are still living in tent camps. However, unlike today, former emigrants from Afghanistan are often supporters of the Taliban (a movement banned in Russia), Islamism, and opponents of the United States. Those in Pakistan who leave the camp will be able to join the nearly one million Afghans already there illegally. In July, the local authorities, who were already conducting deportation campaigns, announced that the country was overcrowded and there was no room for new settlers.
Beyond the Iranian border, the situation for refugees is no better, although one of the Afghan languages, Dari and Iranian Farsi, are closely related. Tehran has agreed to set up tent camps in three provinces bordering Afghanistan. But even here, there are already too many Afghan refugees: according to various estimates, from 800,000 to one million. The economic decline caused by American sanctions and the pandemic is depriving these people of a life perspective. And the integration of Sunnis by faith in a Shiite country has run into challenges.
In recent decades, Afghan refugees have already demonstrated their desire to move to the West: back in the 2010s, they were the second-largest migrant population in the EU after Syrians. But to get to the EU and ask for asylum, Iranian Afghans must first get past Turkey. However Ankara, in a statement by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on September 3 at a joint press conference with his Dutch counterpart Sigrid Kaag in Ankara, has already officially indicated that it will not become a safe haven for Afghan refugees for any money and excludes any migration deal with the European Union.
As for Europe, it participated in the 20-year “mission of coalition troops in Afghanistan,” and is therefore responsible for the current situation in Afghanistan and incapable of getting this country out of the chaos, but new refugees are not wanted as Europe can’t cope with those who have already flooded its member States. After the Taliban (banned in Russia) came to power in Afghanistan, more than 196,000 foreigners and Afghans were evacuated, according to media reports. Specifically, as Reuters and the Associated Press point out, the US has taken out more than 120,000 refugees, Britain 16,000, Germany 5,347, Italy 5,011, and France 3,000 refugees.
No European Union country has agreed to accept refugees from Afghanistan, President of the European Parliament David Maria Sassoli stated at the forum on strategic security in Slovenia. According to Sassoli, EU countries have been evacuating Afghans who have cooperated with them and their families, “but none dared to offer refuge to those whose lives are still in danger today.”
On August 31, the EU Council adopted a statement on the situation in Afghanistan in which it pledged that it would increase support to third countries that would host large numbers of refugees. In these circumstances, according to media reports, an appeal to accept various groups of Afghan refugees has been sent to the Finnish authorities from Washington, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said.
To justify the reluctance to accept Afghan refugees, the media of some Western countries have already launched an information campaign on this topic, accusing migrants of various sins and crimes. For example, the Lithuanian media report that a caste system is being formed in the camp for illegal migrants in Rudninkai (Šalčininkai district of Lithuania). Castes, the Red Cross found out, are formed based on ethnicity, race and citizenship. The “upper” caste includes Arabs and Kurds; the “lower” caste is comprised of people from Africa, Afghanistan and Syria. In addition, the hierarchy depends on the availability of money and physical strength. Weaker migrants have been extorted for money for using the shower, and representatives of different castes visit different toilets. Two migrants living in Rudninkai reported sexual exploitation and prostitution in the camp.
Sardar Mohammed M., a rapist of his own child who was deported from Germany, re-entered the country as a refugee from Afghanistan via an “air bridge” from Kabul on August 24 via Tashkent. He was detained at the airport and immediately arrested, Spiegel reported.
NBC television sources said American authorities fear that at least 100 of the 30,000 evacuated Afghans may be linked to radicals and pose a terrorist threat to the United States. In addition, US agencies are conducting additional security checks on about 200 more evacuated Afghans, General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Fox News television.
Besides the organization of the intense inspection of the Afghans, evacuated from Afghanistan by the western airplanes on purpose to reveal potential terrorists, the mentioned work of the American special services, according to some experts, is directed at the training of the future “supporting contingent of the USA in Afghanistan”. This work has become particularly urgent for Washington recently. It hopes to maintain and strengthen its position in Afghanistan through such individuals once the US, and with it, other countries, decide to return in some capacity to that country. Even more so since such statements about the “need for discussion and contacts” with the Taliban have already become very clear from various military and elite political representatives. Not only from the US but also the EU.
Valery Kulikov, political expert, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.