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EU seeks to deport 80,000 Afghan refugees

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(Last Updated On: October 25, 2022)

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More than 80,000 Afghans will need to be deported from Europe “in the near future” under a secret EU plan, amid warnings of a new influx as parts of the country fall back under Taliban control.

The European Commission should threaten to reduce aid that provides 40 per cent of Afghanistan’s GDP unless the “difficult” Kabul government agrees to the mass removal of tens of thousands of failed asylum migrants, a leaked document suggests. It admits the threat, if carried through, could result in the collapse of the fragile state.

The Afghan elite will be rewarded with university places in Europe, under a new EU strategy to use aid and trade as “incentives” to secure deportation agreements for economic migrants from “safe” areas of Afghanistan.

The plan is revealed in a joint “non-paper” discussion document, marked EU Restricted, which was prepared by the European Commission and its foreign policy arm, the External Action Service, and sent to national ambassadors on March 3.

Record violence amid a Taliban insurgency, with 11,000 civilian casualties last year, and economic failure means there is a “high risk of further migratory flows to Europe,” it warns. There are 1.1 million internally displaced Afghans and 5.4 million sheltering in Pakistan and Iran, whose situation is “precarious without reliable long-term perspectives.”

In October, the European Union is hosting an international donor summit for Afghanistan, with the intention of raising enough aid for the period 2017-20 to keep flows at their current levels.

Jean-Claude Juncker’s officials propose using the summit as “leverage” to secure a deportation deal, noting that the EU has pledged more to Afghanistan than any other country with €1.4 billion earmarked until 2020.

“The EU should stress that to reach the objective of the Brussels Conference to raise financial commitments ‘at or near current levels’ it is critical that substantial progress has been made in the negotiations with the Afghan Government on migration by early summer, giving the member states and other donors the confidence that Afghanistan is a reliable partner able to deliver,” it says.

Under a section entitled “Afghan interests,” it says President Ghani’s government is “highly aid dependent”. “Without the continued high levels of international transfers… [it] is unlikely to prevail, as it is being faced by multiple security, economic and political challenges”.

Some 176,000 Afghans claimed asylum in the EU last year, with around six in ten eligible, a rate that has risen as the security situation deteriorates. They make up a quarter of refugees landing in Greece.

The paper, which was obtained by the Statewatch civil liberties website, says the EU’s co-operation with Afghanistan so far has been “difficult and uneven”. Despite President Ghani’s public statements, “other members of the Government do not appear to facilitate the return of irregular migrants, while attempting to re-negotiate conditions to restrict the acceptance of returnees.”

In exchange for accepting “forced returns” of economic migrants from designated “safe areas” of the country, European universities could offer places to Afghan students and researchers under the Erasmus+ scholarship scheme, the paper says, under a section entitled: “Possible components of EU incentives package”.

The document cautions, however, that “the risk that those students apply for asylum once in the EU and make their outmost not to return is however very high, as demonstrated by several cases recently.”

The CAPD development deal, which commits the EU to help in rural development, health, education and counter-drugs programs for a decade, could also be used as a bargaining chip to get a deportation agreement, the document says.

The EU will also provide training and healthcare to those who are deported.

It admits that identifying the safe areas of Afghanistan when processing asylum claims is “not obvious, given the rising insecurity in many provinces”.

The plan also suggests using the laissez passer, a legally controversial deporting document issued by the EU to migrants who have lost or destroyed their own papers.

The EU has publicly embraced a strategy of chequebook diplomacy as it struggles to contain the biggest migrant crisis since 1945.

The proposed deal appears similar to a gambit rejected by African leaders in Malta last year, in which the EU offered €1.8 billion in aid , university places and looser conditions for holders of diplomatic passports in exchange for accepting the forcible deportation of hundreds of thousands of African economic migrants. In the end, leaders settled on a voluntary scheme of returns.

It follows a controversial deal on Friday with Turkey, which was awarded €6 billion and visa liberalisation in exchange for the near-automatic return of all asylum seekers reaching the Greek islands.

Earlier this month Theresa May won a Court of Appeal case to resume deportations to Afghanistan under a separate arrangement. Judges ruled that while several provinces are dangerous, Kabul is safe enough for returns.

Germany, a major destination for Afghan migrants, is pushing hard for its own deportation agreement.

 

Source: Telegraph

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Media outlets must ‘not cause misery and sedition’: Ministry

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(Last Updated On: December 1, 2022)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) Ministry of Information and Culture has called on media outlets to disseminate content that is factual and that contains issues of national interest.

In a meeting on Wednesday with media representatives, officials from the ministry, including the minister, Mullah Khairullah Khairkhah, said the media plays an important role in the development, progress, and preservation of Islamic and national values and also national unity.

“You (media outlets) should try to use your pen and language to benefit the people and not to cause misery and sedition between people,” said Khairkhah.

Mohajer Farahi, the Deputy minister meanwhile said that the media can criticize the lack of work of the government in order to bring about reforms in the institutions, but that it must be based on Islamic principles and values. He also said the policy of the Islamic Emirate was not and is not in any way in conflict with the media.

“The policy of the Islamic Emirate is that we do not want to clash with the media in any way, but we [want to] work together,” said Farahi.

The spokesman of the IEA Zabihullah Mujahid however has pointed out that all government institutions are obliged to make information available to the media in a timely manner.

“Access to information is less and there are problems, and the Commission for Access to Information has its own problems and its employees have decreased from 51 to 18 people,” said Mujahid.

“As much as possible, the organizations should be obliged to make the information available to the media,” he added.

Mujahid also said that the mass media law is under review.

The Ministry of Information and Culture meanwhile has banned Radio Azadi and Voice of America from broadcasting in the country.

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UN warns 6 million Afghans on brink of famine

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(Last Updated On: December 1, 2022)

The United Nations warned on Wednesday that six million people in Afghanistan face an emergency level of food insecurity amid a shortage of sufficient humanitarian assistance due to the lack of funding.

“The economic shocks, which we are experiencing these days are the primary drivers for the humanitarian needs,” UN Deputy Special Representative, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan Ramiz Alakbarov told reporters.

He said that winter is approaching with temperatures dropping in certain areas of the country to minus 25 degrees Celcius.

“We require $768 million to support winter preparedness activities, and 614 million are required before the end of the year… We’ve been struggling for the funding for the entire year,” Alakbarov said.

Two-thirds of the entire population – more than 28 million people – will need humanitarian assistance next year, according to the UN.

He also said that six million people are getting closer to the famine line.

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Explosion at Samangan school sparks widespread condemnation

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(Last Updated On: December 1, 2022)

The deadly explosion on Wednesday at the Al-Jihadi school in the city of Aybak, the center of Samangan province, which killed and injured a number of children and teenagers, has sparked widespread condemnation both locally and internationally.

According to an announcement by the Ministry of Interior, 10 children died and a number of others were injured in the explosion.

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West, in a series of tweets called the attack terrible.

“All Afghan children have the right to go to school without fear,” he tweeted, adding that the United States condemns this senseless attack against innocent civilians.

Amnesty International called the blast “disturbing”, and stated it was “yet another reminder to the world that the sufferings of Afghan people are far from over.”

Amnesty International has said that Afghanistan demands the attention of the world and that determined efforts must be made to protect the people of this country and that those responsible for such reprehensible attacks face justice in fair trials.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has also said in its response that it is horrified by the explosion.

UNICEF added that at least 288 children were killed or injured in Afghanistan in the first half of this year, including in attacks on schools and educational environments. According to the organization, it is believed that the real figure of Wednesday’s explosion is much higher.

The United Nations Children’s Fund has said that children should never be the target of violence.

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also condemned the blast.

“Appalled by today’s horrendous bomb attack on a school in Samangan, Afghanistan, killing and wounding innocent people and students. These atrocities only add to the multitude of crises in Afghanistan. My thoughts go out to the victims’ families and their loved ones,” Anniken Huitfeldt, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway tweeted.

Germany also condemned the explosion, adding that children should be able to go to school without fear and harm.

“We are shocked and saddened by the reports of an attack on a school in Aybak in northern Afghanistan with many dead and injured, including children & young people. Children should be able to go to school without fear and harm. Our thoughts are with those who grieve for a loved one,” German Foreign Office tweeted.

Imdadullah Mahajer, head of the cultural information department in Samangan province, says that an explosion occurred on Wednesday at a religious school called Al-Jihadi in the vicinity of Aybak city, the center of Samangan province.

Mahajer said that students were praying at the time of the explosion.

According to him, 15 students were killed and a number of others were wounded. However, the IEA has put the death toll at 10.

The attack was also widely condemned by IEA officials in the country.

Mawlawi Abdul Kabir, the political deputy of the current government, has strongly condemned the explosion and said that it is against all Islamic and humanitarian principles and an “unforgivable crime”.

“The enemies of Afghanistan and Islam revealed their enmity with Islam with this attack that targeted the students of Quran and Sunnah. I assure that the perpetrators of this crime will not remain unanswered,” Kabir tweeted.

Hamid Karzai, the former president of Afghanistan, has also strongly condemned this explosion and called it against all human and Islamic values.

Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the High Council of National Reconciliation under the previous government, also condemned the incident in a Facebook message.

Abdullah wrote that attacking worshipers, students, religious schools, mosques and places of worship is against Islamic and human values.

The ministry of interior meanwhile stated that the explosion targeted a religious seminary in Samangan’s capital Aybak, killing 10 students and wounding several others.

However, reports on social media indicate that the casualty toll was much higher.

So far no group claimed responsibility for the blast.

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