MS Risk Blog

Western Europe Expected to Keep Out Afghan Refugees

Posted on in Uncategorized title_rule

The Taliban pushed into the Afghanistan capital on August 15 after the government collapsed and the president fled the country. Heavily armed Taliban fighters fanned out across the city causing panic across the country and nations raced to get their citizens, diplomats, embassy personnel, and local Afghan staff out of the country. Western missions took place over the next 16 days as all troops had to be out of the country by August 31. Commercial flights were suspended, closing off a route available for fleeing Afghans that do not wish to live under Taliban rule. As the evacuation efforts continue and countries scramble to evacuate their local staff from Kabul, European countries have repeatedly brought up fears of reliving the 2016 refugee crisis. The takeover of Kabul has sent thousands of Afghans attempting to flee the country, but it has also panicked western European politicians who are terrified of a large Muslim refugee influx.

There is widespread concern for many western European nations, including France, Germany, and Austria. Many are fearing a refugee crisis mirroring that of 2016. Signalling an open-door policy for refugees has the potential to cause mass immigration for nations already battling the migrant influx due to the pandemic. There are key elections coming up in Germany and France, two nations whose far-right parties have gained popularity over the past years. The German and French governments are likely to push against Afghan refugees, particularity the next several months to convey a strong front against mass refugee movement.  There are worries the mass movement of Muslims will fuel the far-right movements that have gained popularity since 2015.

With German elections only a month away the far-right party Alternative for Germany will have the most to gain if the Merkel government allows any refugee flow, no matter how small. If Germany were to let in refugees, the announcement will likely come well after ballots have been cast. There are similar worries that a wave of arrivals could fuel the national Rally Party of Marine Le Pen in France and the League and the Brothers of Italy parties in Italy.

Officials in the Europe Union have been reluctant to welcome more Afghan refugees. To prevent refugees reaching Europe, EU interior ministers pledged to boost assistance to Iran, Pakistan, and other neighbouring countries. The UK has been criticised for agreeing to take in only 20,000 refugees over the course of five years, even though it is much more than neighbouring countries are accepting. French president Emmanuel Macron has faced criticism for saying France should “anticipate and protect itself from a wave of migrants”. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz mirrors the French president when he suggested that the people of Afghanistan should only be helped by their neighbouring states.

What most nations will allow are those who assisted their military forces and worked as local staff to be granted asylum in the respective country. However, this leaves out hundreds of thousands of people who fear living under Taliban rule with very few places to go. So far, no major efforts have been done to guarantee those individuals passage to another country. With key elections coming up governments will be hesitant to announce efforts as it could be portrayed as mass refugee movement. It is likely the response to retrieve local Afghan staff will be slower than what the anyone would like. Especially adding the additional complications with the Taliban not wanting Afghan citizens to flee the country. Not allowing refugees will lead to those in Afghanistan who fought alongside US allied forces to live in an Afghanistan that mirrors how life was in 2001. Although, the Taliban have repeatedly stated they will operate differently than their strict rule twenty years ago, little is expected for them to do so.