EU must stop returning refugees to Afghanistan: Amnesty
European countries must halt the repatriation of refugees back to Afghanistan, amid concerns that the country’s security situation is deteriorating due to the Taliban, Amnesty International urged on Tuesday.
Responding to a statement by Afghanistan's Ministry for Refugees and Repatriations calling on European states to temporary halt forced returns to the country, Amnesty's Europe Migration Researcher, Adriana Tidona, said:
"The Refugees and Repatriations Ministry's call to halt returns amid a deteriorating security situation, means Europe can no longer turn a blind eye to the dangers faced by Afghan returnees. For years, European countries have been trying to ignore what is plain to see – Afghanistan is not safe to return people to."
Last week, the ministry issued a statement calling for the temporary halt of forced returns of Afghan "migrants", highlighting "the escalation of violence by the terrorist group of Taliban in the country and the spread of the third wave if the COVID-19”.
The European Parliament last month joined a chorus of voices increasingly concerned about the situation in Afghanistan.
"The security situation in Afghanistan is gradually worsening, and the number of attacks against Afghan forces is growing," a resolution read.
The parliament expressed grave concerns over the "targeted assassinations of Afghan activists, media workers, educators, doctors, judges and government officials [and] the number of Taliban attacks has increased significantly since the beginning of the Afghan peace talks, aiming to take over control of government-controlled territories; whereas Afghanistan was ranked as the most affected country in the 2020 Global Terrorism Index".
This comes as the Afghan government suffered a devastating blow in recent weeks as Taliban fighters sweep across the northeast of Afghanistan, taking control of scores of districts.
As US troops continued their withdrawal, the Taliban said its fighters had seized two crossings in western Afghanistan - completing an arc of territory from the Iranian border to the frontier with China.
It now holds 85 percent of the country, a Taliban official said Friday, controlling about 250 of Afghanistan's nearly 400 districts - a claim which has not been independently verified and is disputed by the government.
The Afghan government has repeatedly dismissed the Taliban's gains as having little strategic value, but the seizure of multiple border crossings and the taxes they generate will likely fill the group's coffers with new revenue.