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EU ready to take 38,000 Afghans

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KABUL: Fifteen European Union countries have pledged to offer protection to nearly 40,000 people from Afghanistan. Germany alone has agreed to take in more than half of the evacuees.

The European Union’s Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, announced after a meeting of the bloc’s interior ministers on Thursday that 15 Member States had agreed to offer protection to almost 40,000 Afghans.

She described the pledges as “an impressive act of solidarity.”

According to a letter from Johansson to the 15 interior ministers, seen by the dpa news agency, the actual number of new admission places for Afghans is 38,146.

The letter states that Germany alone is ready to accept 25,000 refugees from Afghanistan. Germany’s new foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, had said in August, prior to the federal election, that the country was obliged to take in 50,000 Afghans.

European countries have already evacuated around 28,000 people from Afghanistan in the past few months, according to the European Commission. The 38,146 now mentioned are additional evacuees.

The Johansson letter also mentions a total of 60,000 accepted admission places in EU countries for 2021 and 2022, but this number does not only apply to Afghanistan.

After the takeover of power by the Taliban in August, the EU decided not to make any concrete commitments to accept people from Afghanistan. Some Member States argued strongly against taking in Afghan refugees, saying this would encourage irregular migration.

At a press conference following the EU interior ministers’ meeting, Johansson said all states shared “a willingness to move away from irregular arrivals towards regular migration.”

In October, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told the EU’s high-level forum on providing protection to Afghans at risk that 85,000 people would need protection over the coming five years. He asked EU Member States to take in half of that number.

The EU believes that around 664,000 Afghans have been internally displaced in the country since the beginning of this year, in addition to 3 million people who were already internally displaced by the end of 2020. 

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