Afghanistan agrees to retake ‘unlimited’ refugees from Europe

Kabul [Afghanistan]: The Afghan Government has agreed to take back an ‘unlimited number’ of refugees deported from the member states of the European Union (EU) after the two sides signed an agreement.

The deal has been in the pipeline for months, leading up to a large EU-hosted donor conference in Brussels this week, reports the Guardian.

According to a previously leaked memo, the EU suggested stripping Afghanistan of aid if its government did not cooperate.

The deal that was finally signed on Sunday has not been made public, but the Guardian reports that Kabul commits to readmitting any Afghan citizen who has not been granted asylum in Europe, and who refuses to return to Afghanistan voluntarily.

It is the latest EU measure to lighten the weight of the many asylum seekers who have arrived since early 2015 as Afghans constituted the second-largest group of asylum seekers in Europe, with 196,170 applying last year.

While the text stipulates a maximum of 50 non-voluntary deportees per chartered flight in the first six months after the agreement, there is no limit to the number of daily deportation flights European governments can charter to Kabul.

With tens of thousands set to be deported, both sides will also consider building a terminal dedicated to deportation flights at Kabul international airport.

The agreement, Joint Way Forward, also opens up the deportation of women and children, which at the moment almost exclusively happens from Norway: “Special measures will ensure that such vulnerable groups receive adequate protection, assistance and care throughout the whole process.”

The EU has negotiated the agreement with the Afghan government as part of the run-up to this week’s Brussels donor conference, where international donors will pledge aid for Afghanistan for the coming four years. (ANI)