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Afghans in catch 22 as West squeezes space

ISLAMABAD: Afghan citizens evacuated from Afghanistan by the United States and other European countries, were now experiencing the uncertain situation as the outpouring sympathies had started to dwindle and overshadowed by the political gimmickry in their host countries.
The future of these refugees was by no means certain as most of the countries had been reluctant to grant them asylum and other facilities they were promised and entitled to under the international law, various leading writers, researchers and analysts observed.
A recent report in the renowned “The Guardian” said Afghans who recently arrived in the UK after fleeing the Taliban takeover had asked to be sent back, casting doubt over the success of “Operation Warm Welcome”,
the government’s Afghan resettlement programme.
Boris Johnson launched the programme on August 29 to help Afghan refugees arriving in the UK by providing support so they could “rebuild their lives, find work, pursue education and integrate into their local communities”.
However, a widespread lack of housing means hotels had been commandeered as emergency temporary accommodation for 7,000 Afghan refugees, the report said.
The report quoted one doctor as saying “I’ve had a few patients telling me they want to go home. One guy, who was 67, kept saying: ‘I can’t take this anymore. I have to get out of this [hotel] room.’?
There were also concerns over healthcare for those held in hotels following the evacuation from Kabul airport, with one charity describing confusion over access.
One council leader described the government’s programme as a “shocking failure”. Councilor Danny Thorpe of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, south-east London, said lack of organized government support when 700 Afghans arrived in the borough in August was “unforgivable”.
Jill O’Leary, lead doctor at the Helen Bamber Foundation, who was working with 650 clients, said the situation was “muddled and confused”.
Andrea Mammone, a historian at Royal Holloway, University of London and visiting fellow at the European University Institute, in his article posted on Al Jazeera Tv website, said European politicians had done relatively little to help Afghans in view of their moral responsibility for their plight.
The writer said for a country like Afghanistan, that was facing an imminent humanitarian catastrophe and an exodus of people seeking asylum, this was by far not enough.
“Worse still, some European politicians have started using the Afghan crisis as an opportunity to score political gains. The EU’s stance on the situation in Afghanistan, and the plight of the Afghan people, appears to be identical to that of the far right.” Mammone opined while criticizing the approach.
He observed that proposals to externalise migration management and humanitarian protection through the creation of “buffer zones” or offshore reception centers were not new.
The historian further stressed that the EU should show the world that it was not escaping from its responsibilities and that its member states were indeed working together to uphold the self-declared core
values of the bloc: human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law and human rights.
Chico Harlan, a senior bureau at the Washington Post, in his article said the path out of Afghanistan and toward Europe resembled the one experienced by those now in Athens — rife with obstacles and dangers, sometimes created intentionally by a continent that has sought to prevent the historic waves of refugees it
saw in 2015 and 2016.
“The obstacles include alleged pushbacks, a violation of international law, in which Greek border forces try to prevent migrants from reaching European shores, returning them to international waters and abandoning them,” he said while drawing a parallel between the situation of Afghan people with other asylum seekers.
Nasrat Sayed, an Afghan based in the Netherlands who researched Afghan migration, suggested that the EU countries were reluctant to grant asylum to people fleeing a nation where billions had been invested in security.
Another writer said in the United States, where tens of thousands of Afghans were expected to be resettled, the political figures were using the new refugees’ issue as a political weapon against each other.

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M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.