Since the Taliban’s victory with the capture of Kabul on August 15, images of Afghans’ horror and desperation to leave the country from Kabul airport have traveled the world. Europe foresees that the Afghan crisis may boost migratory flows and is preparing to avoid a new “refugee crisis”, such as the one that occurred in 2015 when the war in Syria pushed thousands of people who wanted to seek asylum in Syria at the doors of the continent. the European Union. “We want to keep migration flows under control and the EU’s borders protected,” said Charles Michel, President of the European Council this week.
Afghans trying to take refuge from the Taliban in Europe will be pushed across deserts, mountains, rivers, armed checkpoints, and jumping border fences. On their way, they will run into new walls like those recently announced by Greece and Turkey. In a confrontation with Belarus, Lithuania and Poland have decided to build new physical barriers that will meet many Afghan people who, along with others from countries like Iraq, are trying to cross the border in greater numbers.
Greece expands its wall with Turkey
Last week, Greece completed the extension of a 40-kilometer fence – previously almost 13 kilometers long – that seeks to deter and prevent irregular entry across the land border with Turkey. The authorities have also ensured that it has been installed a high-tech automated surveillance system, with cameras, radars and drones.
Greece was at the forefront of the “refugee crisis” of 2015, when thousands of people fleeing war and persecution arrived on its territory daily after risking their lives.
The Greek government has insisted these days that “it does not want and cannot be the gateway to Europe for refugees and migrants who could try to reach the EU.” The Minister of Citizen Protection, Michalis Chrysochoidis, has said that the crisis in Afghanistan has created “possibilities of migratory flows”. “We cannot wait, passively. Our borders will remain secure and inviolable.”
Turkey builds a wall on its border with Iran
Afghans who manage to make the weeks-long journey through Iran on foot to the Turkish border face a 10-foot-high wall, ditches or barbed wire, as the Turkish authorities intensify their efforts to block any influx. of refugees to the country. According to Reuters reports, the reinforcement of border measures began when the Taliban began to advance in Afghanistan and took Kabul last week.
Turkey, which has already erected a 156-kilometer wall on the border with Iran, has now decided to build a modular wall, three meters high and 2.80 meters wide, along another 64 kilometers in Van province to prevent large-scale entry of migrants into the country, reports EFE.
In the remaining 314 kilometers, a network with wires and sensors will be provisionally installed. In addition, border surveillance has been reinforced with a wide deployment of soldiers and sophisticated equipment, such as drones and towers with thermal cameras, radars and sensors to detect the crossing of people.
“Turkey, which is already hosting five million refugees, cannot shoulder an added migrant burden,” the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told the European Council, Charles Michel, in a telephone conversation last weekend. “We want to show the whole world that our borders are insurmountable. Our greatest hope is that there will not be a wave of migration from Afghanistan,” Mehmet Emin Bilmez, the governor of Van, told Reuters.
Lithuania erects a fence on its border with Belarus
While the countries of the European Union believe that the coming to power of the Taliban can boost migratory flows, the members of the bloc that border Belarus are locked in a confrontation with the authoritarian leader of that country, Alexander Lukashenko.
Lithuania’s parliament approved on August 10 a bill for the construction of a fence along its border with Belarus to prevent migrants from entering – many of them Afghans, Syrians and others from outside the EU.
Lithuania defends that they are crossing in record numbers orchestrated by Lukashenko. The Baltic country and its allies have accused Lukashenko of using them to pressure the European Union to lift sanctions against his country.
“I have already said frankly that we are not going to contain those you have oppressed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran. We do not have the money or the strength to do so as a result of your sanctions.” Lukashenko said addressing the EU countries.
On Monday, Lithuania declared that it will complete the 508-kilometer fence by September next year, Reuters reports. The barrier will be three meters high and covered with barbed wire.
“Building the fence as soon as possible is our top priority now. It is not a simple fence, but a defensive wall that protects the entire European Union and us,” says the Government in a statement.
Fence on the Polish-Belarusian border
In the same dispute with Belarus, the Polish government announced last Monday that it will erect a 2.5 meter high fence along its border with the country of Lukashenko. Like Lithuania, Poland has reported a sharp increase in migrants from Afghanistan, also from other countries such as Iraq, attempting to cross its borders.
“We cannot allow the entry of these people, since soon we could have tens of thousands trying to do this. We must defend the sovereignty of our territory,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters on Thursday, according to Bloomberg.
“Six kilometers of fences have already been built on the border,” Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said on Twitter this Friday, also saying that 2,000 soldiers will be assigned to patrol the border.
The Government of Poland has come under harsh criticism for the situation of a group of migrants from Afghanistan who are camped out in the open, without running water or medical attention, near Usnarz Górny, a few meters from the Polish border. “These people are fleeing desperate circumstances in Afghanistan. Surrounding them with armed border guards is a cruel response by Poland to their plight, “criticized Aleksandra Fertlińska, campaign manager at Amnesty International Poland.