The number of dead or wounded in Afghanistan remains at record levels, but the European Union is deporting refugees to Afghanistan under the pretext that the country is “post-conflict”. The EU’s policy is immoral, cruel, and disingenuous.
The Taliban have claimed responsibility for a suicide car bomb that rammed a minibus in western Kabul city on Monday, injuring an estimated 50 and killing at least 38 according to latest reports. The Taliban claim the targets were intelligence officers, but according to sources on the ground the minibus that was targeted was full of employees of the Afghan ministry of mines and petroleum.
This latest bombing comes as on the heels of a new report released by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) that shows casualties and deaths in Afghanistan remain at record levels, and in some cases are rising – especially among women and children.
UNAMA’s mid-year casualty report for Afghanistan states that 1,662 Afghan civilians have been killed and 3,581 more were injured in the first six months of 2017.
The majority of the casualties occurred in the nations capital, where the EU sends failed Afghan asylum seekers back—sometimes forcibly—under the pretext that “Afghanistan is Safe” and even “Post Conflict”.
It would seem that, for the EU and others who reject Afghan asylum seekers, facts on the ground in Afghanistan mean very little when making major policy decisions regarding the rights of refugees.
Although all research and reports over the past several years have stated high or rising levels of violence in Afghanistan, the EU pushed a back-room deal called the “Joint Way Forward” (JWF). The deal declared that the EU could deport Afghan asylum seekers, even forcibly, and Afghanistan would accept them back.
Human rights groups and activists have called the JWF deal a result of “blackmail.” They claim, based on a leaked memo, the EU enforced Afghanistan’s acceptance of the JWF by making a $15.2 billion aid package contingent upon accepting an “unlimited” number of Afghan deportees – which is illegal under international law.
Gaslighting a nation
In essence, what the EU and others are doing to the Afghan population can be considered “Gaslighting” – a term used for a form of psychological manipulation where the abuser, in this case the EU, makes one question their own reality and sanity.
As fighting takes place throughout the country, increasing attacks and deaths in Kabul and another US/NATO surge underway, Afghans in Afghanistan and across Europe are being told that their country is “safe” – while the facts on the ground indicate the opposite.
As Afghans continue to be deported to Kabul, it’s important to note what has been taking place in the city in recent weeks.
On May 31, during the start of Ramadan, a truck packed with explosives tore through one of the supposed “safest” streets in Kabul. The bomb was of extraordinary magnitude and is said to be the biggest to have gone off inside the city since the US/ NATO occupation began in 2001.
The blast took the lives of at least 92 Afghan civilians and wounded another 400 or more and left a 13-foot crater in the ground.
The following day five more were killed, this time by security forces as people took to the streets to protest the government’s security failures. Funerals were held the next morning for those who died in the protests—they were also bombed—a triple suicide bombing against the funeral left another seven people dead and 119 injured.
The massive bombing on May 31 also nearly destroyed the German embassy in Kabul, and with it, the false narrative that Afghanistan is a safe place to deport Afghan asylum seekers to.
Unfortunately, Afghans are not the only people fleeing war, extreme violence and the destabilisation and poverty it causes – and they are not the only ones suffering the EU’s callous policy decisions.
The EU has also taken a hostile and militaristic approach to dealing with the influx of refugees coming from Africa, especially Libya. Italy and the EU have built more detention centres, enacted stricter anti refugee laws, made deportations of asylum seekers easier while making appeals to denials of asylum more difficult, and have further militarised both land and sea.
In what is being called “the European Refugee Crisis”, the EU has made a choice to look at the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time in the face, and simply shrug it’s shoulders in ambivalence.
A new report released by the European Commission to the EU Parliament outlining the progress and challenges the EU has had in managing the Refugee Crisis abroad congratulates itself for many failures, including in Afghanistan.
More worrying, however, are the “partnerships” with many African nations – essentially expanding the EU’s reach well inside Africa through a policy of containment, imprisonment and militarization: Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali and Ethiopia are all noted.
In Africa’s case, The EU is trying to deal with the consequences of its violent colonial past with a violent, neocolonial approach.
By demoting Afghans and others fleeing their homeland from “refugees” to “economic migrants,” the EU deviously created a narrative change that is void of any ground realities in order to circumvent international laws on the rights of refugees and create loop holes for illegal deportations.
By making shady deals with weaker nations—who are hungry for aid money—contingent upon millions and sometimes billions of dollars in aid, the EU is in clear violation of international law.
The EU’s narrative change and demotion of “refugee” to “economic migrant” allows for the legal deportation of Afghan asylum seekers, although the narrative itself is false.
If international law means anything, the JWF agreement and Dublin Regulations, along with all the other narratives and anti-refugee laws which the EU has enacted, should be scrapped immediately. All of those who have violated their obligations to accept and protect refugees should pay the consequences of doing so.