Embarrassing U-turn for Merkel on her calls for tough EU rules to stop migrant crisis

Afghanistan: ‘Thousands displaced’ to Kabul reveals expert

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Separately, the Netherlands also joined the reverse ferret move amid Afghanistan’s deteriorating security situation. It comes after both Berlin and the Hague joined a number of EU governments in calling for forced repatriations of Afghan migrants should be allowed if their asylum applications failed. They were also backed by Belgium, Denmark, Greece and Austria in their effort to harden the bloc’s rules over fears of a repeat of the 2015 migration crisis.

Steve Alter, Germany’s interior ministry spokesman, said: “Due to current developments in the security situation, the interior minister has decided to suspend deportations to Afghanistan for the time being.”

Meanwhile, Ankie Broekers-Knol, the Dutch state secretary for justice and security, announced a “moratorium on deportation decisions and departures”.

The pause “will apply for six months and will apply to foreign nationals of Afghan nationality”, she wrote in a letter to the Dutch parliament.

Last month Afghanistan urged the EU to halt forced deportations for three months as security forces battle against the Taliban offensive.

It comes as the US military is set to complete its pullout from the war-ravaged state on August 31.

The Taliban, fighting to reimpose strict Islamic law, have made huge gains in their campaign to defeat the government as western forces leave the country.

In a letter to the EU Commission on Tuesday, six EU countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, said: “Stopping returns sends the wrong signal and is likely to motivate even more Afghan citizens to leave their home for the EU.

“This is why we urge you and your teams at the Commission to intensify talks with the Afghan government on how returns to Afghanistan can and will continue in the coming months.”

Many EU governments are concerned chaos in the region could be a major contributing factor to the emergence of another migrant crisis.

It has already been claimed that Belarus’ regime is using the conflict to wage a “hybrid war” on Brussels by assisting illegal migration into the bloc.

The Commission confirmed that it has received the letter and will respond to its concerns in due course.

A spokesman for the Brussels-based executive said: “At an EU level there isn’t a list of countries considered safe relating to asylum applications or for returns.

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“It’s up to each member state to assess … the country of origin and the situation of the person concerned.”

The issue is expected to be raised at an emergency meeting of EU home affairs ministers on August 18.

Since 2015, some 570,000 Afghans have requested asylum in the EU.

There were 44,000 requests made last year alone.

The concerned EU countries said: “We fully recognise the sensitive situation in Afghanistan in light of the foreseen withdrawal of international troops.”

There are an estimated 4.6 million displaced Afghans.

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Governments want Brussels to increase cooperation with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran to support extra support to refugees.

A senior EU official warned that some 400,000 Afghans have been displaced over recent months and that in the last few days there has been an increase in the numbers of people fleeing to Iran.

The eurocrat said the situation should be seen as less dramatic than recent crises in Syria and Iraq because Kabul has a solid government the EU can work with.

He said: “Given the context, it is hard to imagine that we would conduct forced return operations for the moment.”

The officials described the situation in Afghanistan as “quite challenging” but “not desperate”.

Brussels wants to facilitate a deal with the Taliban to stop the war-torn country from slipping into a civil war.

The conflict would likely Afghanistan becoming an even bigger producer of drugs or a source for a “massive flow of migration”.

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