Violence, drought, and COVID-19 have resulted in 18 million people, almost half of Afghanistan’s population, needing humanitarian assistance and this number is likely to increase, according to Tomas Tobe, the Chairman of the Committee on Development.
Most MEPs have subsequently called for the rescue of Afghan citizens who have worked for the EU or have put effort in advancing shared values.
The situation in Afghanistan “is a catastrophe” both for Afghans and for the west, said the EU High Representative and European Commission Vice-President Josep Borrell at an extraordinary meeting of the Committees on Foreign Affairs and Development and the Delegation for Relations with Afghanistan.
Borrell explained that 106 Afghan staff working for EU institutions have been evacuated to Madrid while a further 300 are struggling to get to the airport in Kabul, the most difficult part of the escape.
He stated that the “EU is ready to discuss humanitarian aid with the Taliban” but emphasised that “this does not mean the regime has been politically recognised”.
Borrell called for Taliban leaders to ensure safety for local and international actors that are supporting the population so that they can continue to carry provide humanitarian assistance.
He also stressed the fact that no one expected the rise of the Islamist rule of the Taliban to happen this rapidly after the withdrawals of US and NATO forces.
“I don’t even think the Taliban was expecting this,” he said.
The priority of the EU is to evacuate EU residents and Afghan associates from Kabul. Malta is one of the member states that is mirroring this line of thought.
In fact, EU sources who spoke to Lovin Malta said that Malta would be taking in some refugees – a similar amount to that of Cyprus.
“It’ll be a handful of refugees, they will be mainly Afghans working for the EU delegation in Kabul who were evacuated,” sources explained.
MEPs have also called for the protection of Afghans’ human rights, namely Maria Arena, Chairwoman of the Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights.
“Those who perpetrate heinous crimes against the Afghan population cannot enjoy impunity, but must be punished for them,” she said before calling for both domestic and international investigations.
Afghanistan was under the Taliban rule 20 years ago and during that time harsh conditions were implemented following strict interpretation of Islamic law. This made the country an extremely dangerous place to be a woman – it even had the highest maternal mortality rate in the world.
With the fall of the Taliban in 2001, the situation of women and girls drastically improved, but now Afghan citizens are plagued with fear and uncertainty about whether they’ll have to revisit those torturous years.
This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
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