Netherlands wants to keep deporting Afghan asylum seekers
The Netherlands wants to retain the option of forcibly deporting failed asylum seekers from Afghanistan, despite the rise of the Taliban making the country increasingly dangerous. The Dutch- and five other EU governments said in a letter that a migration agreement concluded with Afghanistan earlier this year must be maintained and the European Commission must advocate to ensure this, NU.nl reports.
Since NATO troops started withdrawing from Afghanistan, the Taliban has gained more and more ground in the country. The international troops still in Afghanistan have entered the final phase of their withdrawal.
In early July, the Afghan government informed the European Commission that it would stop taking back deported asylum seekers for a period of three months. The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, and Greece find that unacceptable. According to them, stopping deportation will have an attracting effect that will draw more migrants to the European Union.
They said that the agreement between the EU and Afghanistan does not provide for such a unilateral suspension. Disagreements about the interpretation of the agreement must be resolved by mutual agreement, they said. "Against this background, we ask the Commission to intensify the dialogue on migration matters with its Afghan partners, including swift and effective cooperation on returns," the countries wrote.
Asylum seekers' organization Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland also wrote a letter to the European Commission, urging it not to respond to the countries' call. "Every Afghan who is now deported is put in life threatening danger," a spokesperson told Trouw.
Vluchtelingenwerk called it "shameless and reckless" that the government's efforts are aimed at continuing to deport Afghan asylum seekers, "while the Taliban is making an unprecedented advance and chaos and panic is breaking out throughout Afghanistan".
Gerald Knaus, chairman and founder of think tank The European Stability Initiative, on Twitter called the governments' letter an "embarrassing proposal" that will go down in history for the wrong reasons.
The Ministry of Justice and Security, which handles asylum cases in the Netherlands, told NU.nl that asylum applications are "assessed on a case-by-case basis whether return is possible". No Afghan asylum seekers were deported in the first half of the year and no such deportations are currently planned, the spokesperson said.
The Taliban is specifically targeting Afghan interpreters who worked with foreign troops, calling them traitors to the country. The Dutch Ministry of Defense promised to bring the interpreters who worked with Dutch troops, as well as their families, to safety in the Netherlands. Though dozens of them are still trapped in Afghanistan.