The European Union should provide financial aid to Afghanistan’s neighbors to help them manage refugees fleeing the Taliban, the bloc’s foreign policy chief said in an interview published Monday.
The return of the hardline Islamist group to power in Kabul on August 15 has cast doubt on the future of many Afghans and raised concerns that millions of people are seeking refuge in neighboring countries and Europe.
“We will have to strengthen cooperation with neighboring countries to solve problems related to Afghanistan. We must help them with the first wave of refugees,” Josep Borrell told the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera.
“Afghans fleeing the country will not reach Rome in the first place, but maybe Tashkent (in Uzbekistan). We need to help those countries that will be on the front lines.”
When asked whether they would receive European financial support to host Afghan refugees, he said: “Europe’s absorption capacity has its limits and nothing can be done without strong cooperation.
“Neighboring countries will be affected more and earlier than Europe. So yes: that also means giving financial support to those countries as we have done with Turkey.”
In 2016, Turkey struck a deal with the EU to stem the flow of migrants to Europe in exchange for some incentives, including financial aid.
Turkey is currently hosting some 3.7 million refugees from the conflict in Syria.
Borrell said the crisis in Afghanistan, fueled by the withdrawal of US troops, has emphasized the need for the EU to have its own military capability.
“The EU must be able to intervene to protect our interests if the Americans do not want to be involved,” Borrell said.
“Our first force should consist of 5,000 soldiers that we can mobilize at short notice. We have EU battlegroups, but they have never been mobilized. We need to be able to act quickly.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)