Most eyes are still on the Kabul airport, where Europeans rush evacuation hours before US troops pick up the duffel and leave Afghanistan on Aug. 31. But in the meantime, through the mountains and back roads, refugees begin to crowd at border points with Pakistan, a country where the Taliban, from whom the refugees are now fleeing, have traditionally been hiding.
What will happen when the US leaves Kabul airport?
And, to prevent those refugees from reaching Europe, the EU has already started talking to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. This Thursday, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, welcomed the efforts of the Islamabad Government: “I thank the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, for welcoming the evacuees in transit. We have also spoken about the safety of citizens in Afghanistan, as well as regional and international security. Ensuring the deployment of humanitarian aid is essential. ”
“Pakistan offers its cooperation to all foreign (diplomatic) legations, organizations and international media to temporarily transfer or repatriate their personnel,” repeats the Pakistani Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, reports Efe.
According to Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, a total of 22,400 people have so far left Afghanistan via Pakistan, 22,000 of them foreigners. Of that total, 3,400 have flown from Kabul to Islamabad. And another 19,000 through the border crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“Thank you to Pakistan and Ambassador Farooq for their incredible assistance in carrying out the Danish evacuation operation to get the Danes and Afghans out of Kabul,” Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said on Twitter. A similar thanks was extended by the Ambassador German in Islamabad, Bernhard Schlagheck, as well as the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva: families from Afghanistan “.
Michel said it last Tuesday after the G7 meeting: “We want to keep migratory flows under control and the borders of the EU protected. We will work with the countries of the region, especially Iran, Pakistan and those of Central Asia, to address different needs. International protection will be needed for persecuted and vulnerable people. And EU Member States will contribute to this international effort. ”
The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, insisted along the same lines: “Our main effort must be to ensure that internally displaced Afghans receive aid or that the international community contributes to their support in neighboring countries. Support for the region is of the utmost importance and we will, of course, continue working with the countries of the region. ”
“Resettlement is voluntary, without any doubt,” said the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, this Tuesday, ruling out the possibility of a European plan for refugees and, of course, nothing to do with quotas. host in the EU.
End of evacuations
“This is a painful moment,” the Dutch government explained on Thursday, “because people who are eligible for evacuation by the Netherlands will be left behind.” Why? Because the US has already ordered to leave the airport to transfer US troops and equipment. In addition to logistical reasons, the authorities speak of possible threats of attacks at the airport. August 31 is also an unavoidable deadline for the Taliban regime.
And it is that European countries have few hours left to withdraw officials and collaborators from Afghanistan. The French evacuation operation from Kabul airport “most likely” will end this Thursday, the Minister of European Affairs, Clément Beaune, announced on Wednesday to the CNews station. Belgium, for its part, has already completed its evacuation flights. And the British, likewise, will collect between Friday and Saturday.