EU Quickly Takes Action Amidst Turmoil in Afghanistan
After Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was forced to flee into exile on Sunday as Taliban militants stormed the country’s presidential palace, European governments worked around the clock to ensure the safe return of their citizens and diplomats in the devastated Middle Eastern country.
On Sunday, the European Commission president, Charles Michel, tweeted a statement assuring the safety of EU citizens in distress as Afghanistan continues to remain in turmoil, affirming that he is in close contact with EU High Representative Josep Borrell.
“Security of EU citizens, staff and their families is a priority in the short term. Equally clear that many lessons will need to be drawn,” said Michel.
Borrell further announced that today there will be a video tele-conference today between EU foreign affairs ministers, which will be later followed by a press conference announcing the key points and outcome of the crucial meeting. While EU citizens continue to be rushed out of the country, Borell also wants to maintain a focus on the EU’s approach to the Taliban coup.
“Afghanistan stands at a crossroad. Security and wellbeing of its citizens, as well as international security are at play,” said Borrell, who later held a call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, announcing cooperation between the two regarding evacuation of EU and foreign nationals, in addition to the local staff.
On Monday, 17 August, the EU’s Political and Security Committee, which is made up of various ambassadors from member states, met to discuss the situation as well. This is officially the first reaction from the European Union on attempts to provide a “first assessment” to the situation according to Borrell.
In regards to ongoing evacuation, many countries have undergone similar approaches in bringing their citizens home, along with the local staff that worked at the embassies that are also seeking refuge for them and their families.
Denmark has offered to resettle anyone in their country that has worked with the embassy or the armed forces the past two years. It was the first EU country to offer residency to Afghan nationals amidst the situation, however there has been some criticism for the two year employment constraint, stating that is far too little.
EU candidate countries Albania and Kosovo have made an agreement with the US to host Afghan refugees that are waiting to receive visas in order to enter the US.
Spain sent two airplanes yesterday to Dubai commencing the first phase of embassy staff evacuation, including local Afghan employees, such as translators.
“We will support the EU and its foreign service for an orderly departure of European and local personnel. We will not leave anyone behind,” said Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares. Furthermore, fellow EU member Czechia confirmed that a plane carrying 46 Czechs and local workers arrived safely in the country yesterday morning as well.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas informed the public of Germany’s plans to evacuate, sending military grade aircraft overnight to evacuate embassy staff and local workers to a nearby country, then to Germany immediately after.
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