The Minister of Foreign Affairs Salahuddin Rabbani and Minister of Refugees and Repatriation on Monday addressed parliament over the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe with the focus being on Afghan refugees fleeing the country.
According to Rabbani, so far this year 146,000 Afghans have sought refuge in Europe. He said that of these, 43 percent have been given asylum in various countries and that 53 percent are still being processed. The balance has been repatriated.
He said that a total of 80,000 applied for asylum in Germany alone.
Rabbani went on to say that the two key issues driving Afghans to Europe is insecurity and unemployment. However, in order to be granted asylum status, all Afghans have to prove their lives are in danger, he said.
“Afghanistan had the highest number of asylum seekers in the past but that has changed. Syria is now the number one country,” he said.
But as he pointed out, some European countries are now taking a hard line against accepting refugees.
“Foreign Affairs has been monitoring the situation since the start of the migrant crisis and a high-level refugee commission has been established. This is being led by President Ashraf Ghani,” he said.
He also said that the government is in constant talks with the UNHCR over the issue.
He went on to say that although government has agreements in place with some countries over refugees, these agreements are being reviewed. He also said that countries that have rejected some refugees, particularly those who are ill, have been asked to review their decisions.
“Government has also asked Germany not to repatriate Afghans that they have rejected,” he said.
Rabbani stated his ministry is working closely with the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation and its Minister Sayed Hussain Alimi Balkhi about this issue and are in talks with migrant organizations.
Balkhi, who also addressed the MPs said that so long as there is war, Afghans will continue to leave the country.
He said that insecurity and the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan has had an impact on the current refugee crisis.
Balkhi said that there are two ways to stop people from leaving. One is to motivate them to stay and the second one is to implement practical measures to help them.
He also said his ministry has been closely involved in making would-be migrants aware of the dangers involved in fleeing the country and that they have initiated a campaign to warn would-be migrants of the hardships they would face while traveling to Europe.
He said his ministry has appealed to religious scholars and the media to speak to the public and discourage them from leaving.
He however pointed out that there are agreements in place with some countries to take in refugees and that government will not accept repatriations from these countries.
Balkhi did not however name the countries concerned.
He told MPs that last year, 962 people were deported from Europe. So far this year 229 have been deported.
But according to him some countries have agreed to enter into talks with Afghanistan on the issue of not deporting migrants.
He said he has also called on some countries and organizations to work on a strategic plan to help provide jobs and funding to Afghanistan to help stop would-be migrants.
On the issue of Germany deporting refugees, Balkhi said he told their local media he would not accept the decision. He said with the increase in insecurity in the country, the deportation of refugees will only cause bigger problems for the country. The repatriated refugees will also suffer, he said.
Balkhi states a meeting needs to be organized between various parties, nationally and internationally, to work out a clear policy. He said that Germany has agreed that such discussions are needed.