The expulsions to their country of origin of migrants from Afghanistan who have rejected their application for asylum in France have been suspended since the beginning of July, the Interior Ministry announced on Thursday. In question, the fighting between the Taliban and pro-government forces taking place there.
The security situation in the country, although the violence of the great offensive launched in May by the Taliban has intensified since this summer, so it does not allow the return of illegal immigrants, authorities believe. “We are closely monitoring the development of the situation, together with our European partners,” the Interior Ministry told AFP, a day after a similar announcement from Germany and the Netherlands.
On July 11, Afghanistan called on European countries to stop deporting Afghan migrants for the next three months, due to the intensification of fighting in the country. Sweden and Finland had suspended transfers to Afghanistan following appeal. The Netherlands and Germany, which together with Austria, Belgium, Denmark and Greece had asked Brussels to continue the expulsions, finally made a 180-degree turn by announcing their suspension.
Afghans made up 10.6% of asylum seekers in the EU in 2020 (just over 44,000 out of some 416,600 claims), the second-largest contingent behind Syrians (15.2%), according to the statistical agency of the ‘EU Eurostat. According to a European AFP official, since early 2021 1,200 people have been returned from the EU to Afghanistan, including 1,000 initially described as “voluntary”, the other 200 having been “coerced”.
Regarding France, Afghanistan was the first country of origin for asylum seekers in 2020, with 8,886 applications.
The Taliban launched a major offensive against Afghan forces in early May, in favor of the final withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan, which is scheduled to end at the end of August. Since then, they have retaken many cities and captured the northern half of the country. Ghazni, 150 kilometers southwest of Kabul, fell on Thursday. Therefore, they are coming dangerously close to the capital of Afghanistan.
The American and British embassies denounced the “massacres” of civilians in their wake.