MEPs call for special visa programme for Afghan women seeking protection

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.

Parliament deplores the violent takeover of Afghanistan, calls for more humanitarian aid and a coordinated response to protect those most vulnerable.

MEPs are appalled by reports of violations, including executions, of child soldiers being recruited, peaceful protest and expressions of dissent being repressed, and human rights being restricted, especially targeting women and girls. In a resolution adopted by 536 votes in favour, 96 against and 50 abstentions on Thursday, they call on the EU and its member states to work together to facilitate the evacuation of EU citizens and Afghans at risk, in particular through the use of safe corridors.

Help Afghanistan’s neighbours and those seeking protection from the Taliban regime

MEPs stress that most Afghan refugees will seek protection in neighbouring countries. The EU should therefore support those countries and help create humanitarian corridors to provide food aid, water, sanitation, and medication . However, this cannot replace a fully-fledged European asylum and migration policy , which should focus on resettling those most at risk and most vulnerable, and should include a special visa programme for Afghan women seeking protection from the Taliban regime.

Parliament also urges member states to reassess current and recent asylum applications, including rejected applications, underlining that there must be no forced returns to Afghanistan under any circumstances (39). MEPs call again on the Commission to present a legislative proposal for humanitarian visas and on member states to share responsibility equally in offering protection.

Operational engagement with Taliban, but no official recognition

MEPs acknowledge that operational engagement with the Taliban’s government is needed for logistical and humanitarian matters, in order to provide humanitarian assistance to civilians in need and safe passage for foreign nationals and Afghans willing to leave the country. However, these contacts should remain strictly limited to those purposes. They stress that conditions have not been met for a political recognition of de facto Taliban rulers who are currently destroying the achievements of the last twenty years.

Wake up call for the European Union

The withdrawal of US and international forces from Afghanistan is a collective failure of Western foreign and security policy and strategy, MEPs say, and serious lessons must be drawn for the future. They also point out that this failure could be a strategic advantage for non-Western powers and neighbouring countries, notably Pakistan, as well as China and, to a lesser extent, for Russia..

Finally, MEPs stress that the EU needs to reinforce significantly its capacity to act autonomously and to strengthen its defence cooperation by building a genuine European Defence Union.

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