Afghanistan is not a Safe Country: The EU and the Joint Declaration on Migration Cooperation | (dot)migration
(dot)migration | A space by EMILY TASINATO
The “Joint Declaration on Migration Cooperation between Afghanistan and the EU” (JDMC) is shortly to be adopted by the Council of the European Union. Conceived as the successor of the 2016 Joint Way Forward (JWF), an agreement signed by the member states in response to the so called “refugee and migrants crisis”, this new deal is aimed, at least in theory, at stepping up the cooperation between Brussels and Kabul “to manage migration from and to Afghanistan, including the prevention of irregular migration and the return of irregular migrants”. In practice, as pointed out by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) the JDMC is rather introducing a set of measures that, if compared to the previous JWF, make it easier for the European member states to deport rejected Afghani asylum seekers and, generally speaking, the most vulnerable people to a country still at war.
What is important to highlight is that this joint declaration has been passed in a time of increasing instability across Afghanistan due to the pandemic crisis from one hand, and the deterioration of the country’s internal security from the other one. As well stressed by the Council on Foreign Relations, despite the peace agreement signed on February 29, 2020 between the former U.S government and the Taliban, there is still no official cease-fire in place. Furthermore, on the wave of the second round of discussion that kicked off in Doha on January 9,2021, the intra-Afghan talks are now in phase of stalemate, states the Afghanistan’s independent news agency Pajhwok Afghan News, after the Taliban demand for the release of more prisoners and the removal of their names from the United Nations black list. As a result, the country continues to be battered by a still ongoing conflict where civilians, as the major target of the Taliban attacks, live in a situation of perennial violence, poverty and insecurity (figure 1). Hence, is really Afghanistan a safe country for Afghan nationals and migrants seeking refuge in EU?
Just to mention some figures, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Report updated to December 2020, almost 4,8 million IDPs have been estimated in Afghanistan since 2012 due to violence, conflict and climate disasters (figure 2). Furthermore, as stressed by the OCHA Report, the regional economic downturn due to COVID-19 has increased the returns in Afghanistan of undocumented migrants crossing the border from Iran and Pakistan because of the socio-economic precarity of their lives in these countries (figure 3).
Finally, as well highlighted by Evan Jones, Coordinator at the Asia Displacement Solution Platform (ASDP), in his opinion piece for The New Humanitarian, conditions inside Afghanistan are not conducive for return of migrants. As a country characterized by limited livelihood opportunities, and in which indiscriminate violence, lack of safety, and human rights abuses towards civilians frequently occur, remarks Jones, “it is simply untenable to suggest that the situation in Afghanistan can support returns”.
- Erfanyar, Ahmad Shah. “Doha talks in stalemate due Taliban’s new demands”. Pajhwok Afghan News, January 27, 2021.
- “Joint Declaration on Migration Cooperation between Afghanistan and the EU”, January 2021
- “Joint Way Forward on Migration issues between the EU and Afghanistan”. October 2016
- Jones, Evan. “There’s a better way forward than sending Afghans home to conflict”. The New Humanitarian, September 30, 2020
- “New EU Agreement with Afghanistan Amid Deteriorating Security Situation”. European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), February 5, 2021
- “War in Afghanistan: recent development”. Council on Foreign Relations, last updated February 12, 2021
To get to know more:
- “Humanitarian Needs Overview: Afghanistan”. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), December 2020. https://www.humanitarianresponse.info/sites/www.humanitarianresponse.info/files/documents/files/afghanistan_humanitarian_needs_overview_2021.pdf
- “Country Guidance: Afghanistan. Common analysis and guidance note”. European Asylum Support Office, December 2020. https://easo.europa.eu/sites/default/files/Country_Guidance_Afghanistan_2020_0.pdf