EU preparing for Afghans already abroad to try to reach Europe: report

The EU is preparing for an influx of Afghans, by both traditional routes such as Greece via Turkey and new routes such as by way of Belarus, Fabrice Leggeri, director-general of the EU’s border and coast guard agency Frontex, told Reuters.

Frontex is “monitoring what’s going on” inside Afghanistan itself but is also keeping an eye on Afghan communities in neighboring states, he said, listing Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

The EU has sought to reform its migration system after a crisis in 2015-2016, when more than a million people arrived, most crossing the Balkans on foot to reach northern Europe, Reuters said.

On March 18, 2016 the European Council and Turkey reached an agreement aimed at stopping the flow of irregular migration via Turkey to Europe. According to the EU-Turkey statement, all new irregular migrants and asylum seekers arriving from Turkey in the Greek islands and whose applications for asylum have been declared inadmissible should be returned to Turkey. The EU pledged €3 billion in 2016-2017 and another €3 billion in 2018-2019 to Turkey as its part of the deal.

Turkey and the EU are working on the influx of Afghan refugees. However, Ankara is asking for an update in the migration deal, according to recent reports.

“The existing migration deal needs to be updated to include the safe repatriation of Afghans and Syrians when their countries’ security and stability have been ensured,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Thursday during a press conference with Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag.

“We cannot cooperate with the EU if their understanding is that Turkey will host refugees in return for financial assistance,” he said.

Speaking in a televised address following a Cabinet meeting, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan underlined that Ankara “has no duty, responsibility or obligation to be Europe’s refugee warehouse.”

Turkey, which hosts some 3.7 million registered Syrian refugees, is currently faced with an increasing number of Afghans attempting to enter the country through Iran since the Taliban took control of the Afghan capital of Kabul. Between 500 and 1,000 Afghans are estimated to have arrived in Turkey each day since early July, according to Turkish media reports.

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