EU accused of ‘staggering neglect’, just 271 Afghans resettled in bloc
Many refugees seeking protection are stuck on Greek soil in 'prison-like' camps.
Around 271 Afghans were resettled in the EU in 2022, meaning just 0.1% of the 270,000 who were in need of permanent protection.
The International Rescue Committee charity accused EU leaders of "staggering neglect" of Afghan refugees, with many trapped in "prison-like" conditions on Greek islands. It claims in a report that EU member states have failed to deliver on legal resettlement promises, which left many Afghans who do reach the EU borders "vulnerable" all over again.
The report adds 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 took just half of the refugees it promised.
Around 41,500 Afghans at risk were admitted to the EU between 2021 and 2022, many through ad hoc emergency evacuations in August 2021. The IRC reports said that "while the IRC welcomes each of these efforts, this response remains vastly insufficient." It is worth saying that some countries have not taken in any Afghans since the fall of Kabul, according to the reports, and two years on Afghans still lack pathways to safety in the EU.
The report said that 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." Further in the report, authors found that more than 90% of the Afghans supported by the IRC's mental health teams in Athens and Lesbos experienced symptoms of anxiety, and 86% of depression, in the year up to March 2023.
The Head of the International Rescue Committee, David Miliband, 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 their capacity to deliver. “There is simply no excuse for treating Afghans, and refugees forced from their homes elsewhere, any differently,” Miliband added.
Moreover, the IRC called on EU member states to “scale up protection pathways” and aim to resettle 42,500 Afghan refugees over the coming five years “at a minimum”.
The report suggests that the UK, which is still failing to deliver on resettlement schemes, is doing better than many EU states.