Charity slams EU for 'staggering neglect' of Afghan refugees

Europe Charity slams EU for 'staggering neglect' of Afghan refugees
MAY 31, 2023 LISTEN

Two years after the Taliban retook power in Afghanistan, the country's citizens still lack pathways to safety in the European Union, a leading global charity warned as it accused the bloc's leaders of “staggering neglect”.

In a report published Wednesday, the International Rescue Committee said 271 Afghan refugees had been resettled in the EU last year. This represents just 0.1 percent of the 270,000 Afghans identified as in need of permanent protection.

Afghans now represent the third largest refugee population globally, with millions forced to flee their homes, often relying on dangerous routes.

Efforts to resettle Afghan refugees in Europe remained vastly insufficient, the report found, adding that “many promised admission schemes have yet to materialise at scale”.

'Prison-like conditions'

Many refugees were trapped in "prison-like" conditions on Greek islands, the report said – claiming that EU member states had failed to deliver on legal resettlement promises.

It also said that no Afghans had arrived under a scheme established in Germany in 2021 to resettle up to 1,000 Afghans a month, while Italy took just half of the refugees it promised. 

In addition, Afghans in need were also facing barriers to fair and full asylum procedures, the threat of forcible returns, as well as long periods in undignified detention-like centres upon arrival in Europe.

The Head of the International Rescue Committee, David Miliband, said: "This report highlights staggering neglect of Afghans by the member states of the European Union, which puts them at risk at every step of their journeys in search of protection. 

“While some states' well-intentioned plans to bring Afghans to safety have hit repeated delays and obstacles, other countries have failed to make any pledges at all, or to guarantee adequate protection and inclusion for the tiny proportion of Afghan refugees who manage to reach Europe.”

The report sets out a roadmap with recommendations both to overcome the most immediate challenges and to put in place a sustainable, longer-term approach that it says is better aligned with the EU's values and capacity to welcome refugees.