(Reuters) – Migration from Afghanistan is likely to increase under Taliban rule, the European Union said on Wednesday, calling on member states to ramp up admission quotas for Afghans in need of protection, particularly for women and girls.
“The instability in Afghanistan is likely to lead to increased migratory pressure,” Commissioner Ylva Johansson, who is responsible for migration and asylum in the EU’s executive Commission, said in a statement.
“I have called on member states to step up their engagement on resettlement, to increase resettlement quotas to help those in need of international protection,” Johansson said.
Taliban insurgents took over the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday, prompting thousands of Afghans desperate to leave the country to rush to the airport.
Many EU member states are nervous that developments in Afghanistan could trigger a replay of Europe’s 2015/16 migration crisis when the chaotic arrival of more than a million people from the Middle East stretched security and welfare systems and fuelled support for far-right groups.
EU countries accused Belarus on Wednesday of conducting “a direct attack” by pushing asylum seekers across its border and, uneasy about the prospect of a surge of Afghan migrants, agreed they need to strengthen their external borders in the future.
Johansson said discussions had begun between EU countries about possible developments and the bloc’s preparedness.
She said the EU should support countries bordering Afghanistan to which a significant number of Afghans have already fled, and if necessary increase this help as the situation evolves, while at the same time letting in more people in need.
She ruled out deportations to Afghanistan, a ban that several EU countries had still fought for two weeks ago.
“As things stand, the situation in Afghanistan is clearly not safe and it will not be safe for some time,” Johansson said. “Therefore we cannot force people to return to Afghanistan.”
(Reporting by Sabine Siebold; editing by Kate Abnett and Philippa Fletcher)