EU says UN demand to take in 42,500 Afghans 'doable'
The European Union said on Thursday a demand by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to take in 42,500 Afghan refugees over five years could be achieved - although any decision lies with member states.
"I think it is doable," said EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, telling a high level EU forum on providing protection to Afghans at risk that the bloc had a "moral duty" to help where it can.
Johansson acknowledged that taking in that amount of refugees wouldn't "solve the Afghan crisis, but it's our moral duty and our task for today."
"There are more people in need of protection," she said in a virtual address to the forum, her audience including EU member states as well as the UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration.
Johansson noted UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Italian diplomat Filippo Grandi, has estimated some 85,000 Afghans already living as refugees in neighbouring states will require resettlement in the coming five years and that the EU should look to take on half of that number.
But she said that evacuations of those deemed to be at greatest risk inside Afghanistan, including female journalists or judges, were the immediate concern.
Johansson noted that 24 EU states had already between them taken in 22,000 Afghans in the aftermath of the chaotic US military withdrawal and the return of the Taliban regime.
That, she said, had sent out a "strong message" that the bloc is "ready to step up" to deal with the ongoing needs of Afghans under threat.