LONDON (The Guardian) – Just 271 Afghans were resettled in the EU in 2022, 0.1% of the 270,000 identified as in need of permanent protection, it has emerged.
Leading charity the International Rescue Committee accused EU leaders of “staggering neglect” of Afghan refugees with many remaining trapped in “prison-like” conditions on Greek islands.
In a damning report, the International Rescue Committee claims EU member states have “consistently” failed to deliver on legal resettlement promises leaving many Afghans who do reach the EU borders “vulnerable” all over again.
It claims that not a single person has arrived under a scheme established in Germany in 2021 to resettle up to 1,000 Afghans a month, while Italy has taken just half the refugees it promised.
Between 2021 and 2022, about 41,500 Afghans at risk were admitted to the EU, many through ad hoc emergency evacuations in August 2021.
“While the IRC welcomes each of these efforts, this response remains vastly insufficient,” the IRC reports said.
Some countries have not taken any Afghans at all since Kabul fell and the country was taken over by the Taliban, according to its report, Two years on Afghans still lack pathways to safety in the EU.
Many remain “trapped in remote and prison-like conditions” in camps on Greek islands “preventing their inclusion into local communities and devastating their mental health”, said the report.
The authors also found that more than 90% of the Afghans supported by the IRC’s mental health teams in Lesbos and Athens experienced symptoms of anxiety, and 86% of depression, in the year to March 2023.
David Miliband, head of the International Rescue Committee, said, “This report highlights staggering neglect of Afghans by the member states of the European Union, which puts them at risk at every step of their journeys in search of protection.”
“While some states’ well-intentioned plans to bring Afghans to safety have hit repeated delays and obstacles, other countries have failed to make any pledges at all, or to guarantee adequate protection and inclusion for the tiny proportion of Afghan refugees who manage to reach Europe.”
He said the welcome EU member states showed to more than 8 million people fleeing Ukraine showed its capacity to deliver.
“There is simply no excuse for treating Afghans, and refugees forced from their homes elsewhere, any differently”.