John MacDougall (AFP via Getty)

EU/Afghanistan: High level meeting must deliver Afghans to safety

Ahead of the EU ‘Forum for providing protection to Afghans at risk’ being held on 7 October with the UK, USA and Canada, Amnesty International is calling for the EU and participating states to evacuate and resettle Afghans at risk from Afghanistan and neighbouring countries. 

“We’ve seen an outpouring of concern for the people of Afghanistan, their fate and their futures. Public support for evacuation and resettlement must now be matched with political commitments. EU countries have an enormous responsibility to Afghans fleeing the Taliban. Evacuation is still possible, and EU countries must do everything they can to bring Afghans at risk to safety via land borders. The lives of the thousands of women and men who worked to promote and defend human rights, gender equality and rule of law, in their country depend on countries stepping up and evacuating people,” said Eve Geddie, Director of Amnesty International’s EU Institutions Office. 

Amnesty International has written to countries attending the Forum asking them to step up efforts to secure evacuation of women activists, human rights defenders, civil society activists, academics, journalists, and marginalized groups, and others who are at heightened risk of retaliation from the Taliban.  

Since the Taliban took power in Afghanistan on 15 August they have committed human rights violations with impunity. A recent research briefing by Amnesty International, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation against Torture (OMCT) documented repression of the rights of women and girls, intimidation of human rights defenders, a crackdown on freedom of expression, reprisals against former government workers and possible violations of international humanitarian law. There have been targeted killings of people who formerly worked for the government, reports of death threats to family members of those who have fled, and – despite the Taliban’s public statements to the contrary – women and girls are being denied access to education and work, and barred from engaging in sport or politics.  

Countries have already committed to annual resettlement quotas. Commitments to evacuate Afghans must be additional to this number. Any ‘creative accounting’ to fulfil resettlement numbers with people being evacuated would be unacceptable, as the number of places committed to are already limited. 

“Time is ticking, and countries attending the Afghanistan Forum should do whatever is necessary to get people out – whether through issuing visa waivers and emergency travel documents for people without passports, or expediting visa processing to speed up evacuations and reunification with family members in Europe” 

Eve Geddie

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