How Amnesty International is making EU trigger law for first time to tackle migrant influx

Afghanistan: Plea for help as those left in 'serious situation'

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Afghanistan has hosted occupying US troops and western powers since 2001 when 9/11 prompted George W Bush’s administration to comb the country in search of al-Qaeda. Despite finding and eliminating Osama Bin Laden in 2008, a military presence remained to bring “stability” to the region, with many Afghans offering their aid. Withdrawing militaries helped extract a portion of the thousands of allied locals and now bear responsibility for resettlement.

Human rights organisation Amnesty International has appealed to the EU for aid as countries attempt to meet their obligations.

Representatives have called on the bloc to trigger a law for the first time in its existence that could help migrants resettle.

In a public letter, the group recommended the Temporary Protection Directive to provide vulnerable Afghans with “safe and orderly arrival and protection in Europe”.

EU officials launched the directive in 2001 to ease demand amid a potential “mass influx” of refugees that threatened to overwhelm existing systems.

At the time, the world was recovering from conflicts in former Yugoslavia, Kosovo and elsewhere that prompted a rise in “displaced persons”.

In action, it protects refugee categories across the EU without unanimous consent from each constituent nation.

The modern-day application would allow the EU27 to accept and care for Afghan refugees.

They would receive a collection of guarantees where they choose to settle within the EU.

These “harmonised rights” include:

  • A residence permit while the protection lasts (between one and three years)
  • Information on temporary protection
  • Access to employment
  • Access to accommodation or housing
  • Access to social welfare or means of subsistence
  • Access to medical treatment
  • Access to education for minors
  • Opportunities for families to reunite (in select circumstances)
  • Guarantees refugees can access their chosen country’s existing asylum system

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Temporary protection would apply across the EU27 aside from Ireland and Denmark and would not equal asylum.

Countries would also retain the right to turn away refugees they suspected of having committed crimes or abuses.

Although potentially beneficial for countries struggling to incorporate new residents, the directive has never seen action.

The disuse has led several member states to question its utility.

The “Proposal for a Regulation addressing situations of crisis and force majeure in the field of migration and asylum” proposed on September 23, 2020, would repeal it.

While there is no evidence of significant influx to the EU – with most countries taking on roughly 5,000 Afghans each at present – numbers could increase in the coming months.

Estimates suggest roughly 3.7 million people inside the now Taliban-controlled country are “internally displaced”.

Officials believe 90 percent will relocate to neighbouring countries such as Pakistan but advocated for Europe to accept its “fair share”.

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