19/08/2021

The least that can be done is to welcome refugees

2 min
Women with their children try to enter Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 16, 2021

BarcelonaOnce the reality of the Taliban's accession to power has been accepted, the main concern of Western countries now seems to be to avoid a new wave of refugees like the one in 2015 as a consequence of the Syrian war. We recall that that episode ended, in the case of the EU, with a pact with Erdogan's Turkey to block their path in exchange for large sums of money. Now, after a disastrous and badly planned withdrawal, added to the collapse of government structures sponsored by the United States and NATO for the last 20 years, the Afghan population that does not agree with the theses of the fundamentalists is very scared, women most of all.

Despite the Taliban's attempts to offer a friendly face during these first days, activists are already beginning to suffer persecutions, as journalist Mònica Bernabé explains. It cannot be forgotten, moreover, that the thousands or tens of thousands of Afghans who have worked for the foreign forces during these years are in danger, since the Taliban consider them as collaborators even though they have promised an amnesty that nobody on the ground believes.

Faced with this scenario, the least that the countries that participated in the occupation of the country, including Spain, can do is to take in those Afghans who feel their lives are in danger, as stated in the statute of refugees. What they cannot do is to abandon all those people who collaborated with the foreign forces (translators, chauffeurs, soldiers, etc.) to their fate, as the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has acknowledged. He at least has offered to take in 20,000 Afghans in his country.

The precedents, however, are far from optimistic. During the Syrian refugee crisis only Germany opened its doors, in a decision that came at a heavy political cost for Angela Merkel. Mariano Rajoy's Spain never fulfilled its commitment to take in a few thousand Syrians, and in the end it was decided to outsource the problem to Turkey. Now it wants to do the same with the countries around Afghanistan, and that they should be the ones to take in the refugees. The priority is, as in 2015, that they do not make it here, that Europe is not affected by a humanitarian crisis in which it has had a direct responsibility.

Now, however, the goal should be twofold: on the one hand, to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and, on the other, to ensure that the Taliban regime does not start an escalation of reprisals against the defenceless population. It is clear that the ideal situation would be for nobody to have to flee their country and for the new authorities to have minimum respect for human rights, but what we cannot ask people to do is to believe the good words of the Taliban, given the bloodthirsty history that precedes them. The fear of those who want to flee, whether by plane from Kabul or by road to Pakistan, is justified and the world cannot close its eyes to this reality.