EU commissioner urges support for international groups, neighboring countries helping Afghan refugees
BRUSSELS (AA) – The EU should focus on helping Afghan refugees in the region and prevent Afghan asylum-seekers from coming to the bloc’s external borders, a European Union commissioner said Wednesday.
“The instability in Afghanistan is likely to lead to increased migratory pressure,” EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson warned following an extraordinary videoconference of EU interior ministers.
The group “should not wait until people arrive at the external borders,” but should “prevent people from heading towards the European Union through unsafe, irregular and uncontrolled routes run by smugglers,” she said.
Johansson argued for supporting international organizations helping those in need in Afghanistan and neighboring countries hosting Afghan refugees.
The EU has supported Afghan refugees and host communities with more than €250 million ($292 million), according to figures by the European Commission.
“We will continue our ongoing programs and intensify our cooperation with host communities in Pakistan, Iran and Tajikistan, as well as other countries in the region such as Turkey,” she said.
At the same, she admitted that “the situation in Afghanistan is clearly not safe and it will not be safe for some time” and ruled out the possibility of forced returns of asylum-seekers whose claim was rejected by EU members.
Johansson also said she asked ministers to raise quotas for direct resettlement programs, creating legal and safe ways for Afghan asylum-seekers to come to the EU.