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Afghanistan: Europe must face up to its responsibilities and show solidarity with Afghans at risk


14 Sep 2021


Global Europe

Speaking in the plenary debate on Afghanistan, the Socialists and Democrats deplored the violent takeover of the country by the Taliban, and voiced their great concerns about the humanitarian catastrophe that is unfolding. 

These concerns will be reflected in the resolution that the European Parliament will adopt on Thursday. The S&D Group calls for safe corridors to be found urgently to continue evacuations under the auspices of UNHCR. They also call on the member states and the Commission to work on a human asylum policy towards those fleeing Afghanistan, including through humanitarian visas and specific and new resettlement pledges. The EU has a moral responsibility in receiving and integrating refugees in full compliance with the Geneva Convention, and must not externalise its migration policy. 

The absolute priority must also be engaging with international donors to set up distribution channels for humanitarian aid. We also call for a strong human rights clause - and particularly in respect of women’s rights - to be attached to EU financial assistance for the country, in efforts to protect the gains that were attained for Afghan women in the last 20 years.

The S&Ds support the HR/VP to use Afghanistan as a breakthrough moment for debate on European strategic autonomy.

Pedro Marques, S&D MEP and vice-president for foreign policy, said:

“20 years after September 11 2001, we deserted Afghanistan, committing yet another set of mistakes, like we did throughout those years. Now, as we fear for those in Afghanistan, particularly women, the least we can do is pledge that we will do all in our power for this not to be a story of despair for them all.  We need to provide them with some hope! Therefore, we must start building the conditions for safe humanitarian aid in Afghanistan again, and the conditions for development and equal rights.

“At the same time, we need to reflect on the many mistakes of the past 20 years, and on the selfishness of many European authorities and political parties that show no solidarity towards those refugees leaving the country in despair.

“Europe must be a land of opportunities, a safe haven for dignity, for human rights, for international law. Europe cannot become more and more the land of closed borders and cold hearts. We owe that to the Afghans now, but we owe it to ourselves and the world too.”

Elena Yoncheva, MEP and the S&D negotiator of the resolution, added:

“After generations of conflict, Afghanistan lives now under a terrible cloud of fear and repression, particularly for women and children. There are many lessons to learn, many challenges for us to face.

“We should resume the EU’s diplomatic presence on the ground as soon as possible, to ensure our own source of information. This will help us to monitor human rights abuses, and will reinforce our efforts to not let Afghanistan become a base for all kinds of international terrorist organisations. We also must address opium production and its trade, which is the Taliban’s main source of income.

“But above all, we must ensure that the return of the Taliban won’t lead to another humanitarian catastrophe. We should not repeat the mistakes from Syria and Libya. We need humanitarian corridors, humanitarian visas, resettlement and we need our asylum systems ready. We need solidarity! The Council should stop drafting shameful statements outsourcing the problems to third countries and to front-line member states, and instead work together as a Union based on shared values and solidarity.”