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EU border agency trials high tech controls as Afghan fighting spreads

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Reuters
(Last Updated On: August 13, 2021)

The EU’s border agency is trialing new high-tech surveillance equipment to detect migrant boats, just as rapid gains by Taliban fighters in Afghanistan have raised the prospect of a surge in people fleeing to Europe.

A balloon system equipped with cameras is being tested at Alexandroupolis airport near the Greek-Turkish land border in northeastern Greece, and on the island of Limnos, with the aim of giving border officials a clearer view of approaching boats.

Planned before recent Taleban advances in Afghanistan, it is part of a wider effort that includes analysis of emerging pressures from the region.

“We are observing and following the developments specifically in Afghanistan and Tunisia which might have an effect on migratory flows towards the European Union,” said Frontex spokesperson Piotr Switalski.

The integrated mix of cameras and thermovision sensors with links to ship transponders and satellite communications gives officials a real-time view of a 60 km (40 miles) circle of sea, covering 40,000 square km (15,000 square miles).

“Border surveillance in the maritime area should be greatly improved because of this innovative system,” he said.

More than 400 Frontex officials with several dozen vehicles, including some equipped with thermovision technology, as well as eight patrol vessels, are stationed in Greece, which has been on the front line of the migrant crisis.

Both the agency and the Greek coast guard have been hit by accusations that Greece has pushed back migrants from Turkey while the border agency stood by, but both have denied acting improperly.

Several EU countries have stopped forced returns of Afghans refused asylum while the fighting intensifies. But Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said this week the EU could not handle another major migration crisis.

Greece, which has built high walls along its land border to deter migrants, says its tough stance has paid off, with incoming flows and camp populations decreasing this year. Mitarachi said camps did have the capacity however to take in more migrants if the country was faced by another influx.

After a slowdown last year when coronavirus lockdowns limited movement, irregular migrant arrivals into the EU through the western Balkans have almost doubled this year, Frontex said.

Switalski said arrivals in Greece spiked in July, with some 1,000 detections.

With 22,600 migrants found illegally entering the EU via the western Balkans from January to July, numbers are far from the levels of 2015, when more than 1 million people, mainly from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq passed through Greece.

But what Switalski called the “tricky” geopolitical situation in the region around the EU has heightened fears of a repeat that could put welfare systems under strain and feed already strong political opposition to immigration.

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Afghanistan will no longer turn into battlefield for superpower nations: Muttaqi

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(Last Updated On: February 2, 2023)

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Amir Khan Muttaqi says the Islamic Emirate will “not allow Afghanistan to enter the battlefield of powerful countries again”.

At an event on Thursday at Kabul University, Muttaqi said that Afghanistan has good diplomatic relations with regional countries, and a number of Afghan embassies in the region and the world receive orders from Kabul.

“After this, we don’t want Afghanistan to be a battlefield between the superpowers. If there is a confrontation, it should be positive and economic,” said Muttaqi.

“According to the geography of Afghanistan, the Islamic Emirate is trying to make Afghanistan the center of economy and connectivity because the region is in great need of energy.”

He emphasized that Afghanistan does not have a problem with the world and that it “has been practically proven that Afghan soil is not used against any country.”

“We also call on the countries of the world that we do not have a problem with any country, the commitment made by the Islamic Emirate is that the soil of Afghanistan will not be used against any country,” he said.

He also said that the report of international organizations in reducing corruption and improving the economic situation in Afghanistan is “hopeful”.

A number of other officials of the Islamic Emirate have said that Afghanistan has been able to move towards improvement in the economic sector despite sanctions.

“In one and a half years, how has the Islamic Emirate been able to move towards improvement in the economic field despite the political and banking restrictions?” asked Deputy Minister of Economy Abdul Latif Nazari.

“You must have read the recent report of the World Bank that Afghanistan’s exports have broken an unprecedented record.”

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Foreign Ministry condemns US move to impose further travel restrictions on some IEA leaders

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(Last Updated On: February 2, 2023)

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) considers the recent statement by the US State Department on additional visa restrictions on some leaders of the Islamic Emirate as an obstacle to the development of ties between the two sides.

According to a statement published on Thursday, the foreign ministry said that the IEA as a responsible government, is committed to all rights of Afghans which are necessitated by the Islamic religion.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reminds the United States that despite the financial and banking sanctions, the Afghan government strives to provide its people with a prosperous life,” the statement read.

“The continuation of illegitimate sanctions on the financial and banking system of Afghanistan is a flagrant violation of the human rights of Afghans, restricting access of Afghans to many spheres of a prosperous life, including education and health.”

The ministry also said that the US “must remain committed to the Doha Agreement” and through implementation, demonstrate that legal documents and agreements signed with the US are trustworthy, adding that the ministry is ready to discuss all outstanding issues with the US.

According to MoFA, the IEA condemns the recent decision of the US and underscores that the disputes should be resolved via diplomatic channels and positive steps.
“Our biliteral interactions have proven that pressure is not helpful in resolving issues,” the statement read.

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Our Afghan policy has failed: Pakistani senator

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(Last Updated On: February 2, 2023)

Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed on Tuesday said “our Afghan Policy has failed”, local media outlet ARY News reported.

Addressing the Senate earlier this week, Mushaid Hussain said that “failing to formulate the counter-terrorism policy is our incapacity”.

“We are in the state of war since last 43 years,” he said. “Five-billion-dollar Afghan Jihad fought, the consequences are before us,” he said.

“The battle for power will devastate Pakistan. People want a solution of the problems, an incompetence will not be allowed”, he said.

Former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani had earlier said that a joint session of Parliament scheduled for February 8 should include a discussion on the country’s national anti-terrorism policy.

“Terrorism has been on the rise, while the political parties are busy in the political tug of war,” he lamented. “All political parties should sit in the parliament to hold a national dialogue,” he advised.

Islamabad has increasingly been pointing fingers at Afghanistan accusing the Islamic Emirate of providing sanctuary to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant group which has carried out number attacks against Pakistan in the past few months.

The IEA has however continued to deny reports that TTP is being given a safe haven in the country, and has repeatedly told its neighor that militant groups will not be allowed to pose a threat to any country from within Afghanistan.

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