After the last 72 hours of mayhem and shocking scenes of tens of thousands of Afghans who previously assisted US and NATO occupying forces attempting to desperately catch any departing plane out of Kabul’s airport as the Taliban’s grip closed in, Turkey, Europe and the US are bracing for a new refugee wave akin to the 2015 crisis.
Turkey is expected to feel the shock first, given it’s already long been a jumping-off point for Afghans making the arduous trip to Europe. The past decade alone has seen some 600,000 Afghans settle in Turkey – all the while a mass wave of Syrian refugees exited there as well, many which are still along Turkey’s southern border (over 3 million).
“The country’s easternmost province of Van abuts northern Iran and serves as a waypoint in the grueling migratory path for Afghans hoping to start a new life in Turkey or to reach Europe,” a report in Asia Times notes.
Recent figured cited by UNHCR officials indicate that some 20,000-30,000 Afghans had already been pouring out of the war-torn country on a weekly basis. Likely this is about to ramp up at least tenfold, also as FT writes that “the world must be ready for an Afghan exodus.”
The first European leader out of the gate to warn about what’s coming was French President Emmanuel Macron, who in surprisingly blunt Monday comments warned that Afghanistan is about to once again become a “sanctuary for terrorism”. It was his statement on Europe embracing itself for “irregular migratory flows” that immediately evoked most controversy:
Speaking on Monday in a televised address from his summer residence, Macron described the situation in Afghanistan as an “important challenge for our own security”.
“We must anticipate and protect ourselves against significant irregular migratory flows that would endanger the migrants and risk encouraging trafficking of all kinds,” he said.
Emmanuel Macron sur la situation en Afghanistan: “Nous devons anticiper et nous protéger contre des flux migratoires irréguliers importants” pic.twitter.com/YylLSysGR6
— BFMTV (@BFMTV) August 16, 2021
Macron: “We must anticipate and protect ourselves against significant irregular migratory flows…”
A number of pundits were angry that Macron said this “on the day that Afghans fell to their deaths clinging to planes” – with his words being subject of angry denunciations from the Left on Tuesday.
Macron continued in his remarks on the security challenge posed by an unraveling Afghanistan: “This is key for international security and peace… we will do everything for Russia, the United States and Europe to cooperate efficiently as our interests are the same,” he said.
NEW: Johnson and Macron talked this afternoon about Afghanistan
PM wants to host a virtual meeting of G7 leaders in the coming days to discuss it
UK and France may also propose a joint UN Security Council resolution
— Ben Riley-Smith (@benrileysmith) August 16, 2021
He further urged “reasonable and unified” response from the UN security council and western allies. He called for joint action against international terrorism, suggesting it will only increase in the wake of recent Afghan events and the Taliban takeover.
“Our actions will above all be aimed at fighting actively against Islamist terrorism in all its forms,” said Macron. “Terrorist groups are present in Afghanistan and seek to profit from the instability.”