MEIG Highlights 19 mai 2021

Highlight 18/2021 – EU policies of migration management in Afghanistan

Soman Fahim, 19 May 2021

Four decades of conflict, economic hardship, and natural disasters have resulted in the displacement of millions of Afghans internally and externally.

In 2015 and 2016, the migration flow to Europe surged due to the depreciating levels of security  as well as the end of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) mission in Afghanistan and the subsequent departure of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Consequently, armed opposition groups pervasively gained power, territory, and instigated military operations across the country. Ultimately, the only coping mechanism for many Afghans to escape conflict is to migrate in search of greener pastures. Although Afghans have been migrating to Europe for decades, the recent numbers have been staggering.

In addressing this imminent challenge, The European Union (EU) on October 2016, signed the Joint Way Forward with Afghanistan as an agreement which seeks to improve coordination between countries involved in preventing irregular migration to Europe from Afghanistan.The agreement further enables the facilitated return of irregular migrants whose asylum applications have been rejected.

Following to the Joint Way Forward in June 2019 the Government of Afghanistan with European technical assistance officially launched Comprehensive Migration Policy (CMP) It addresses returns and reintegration, regular migration, the prevention of irregular migration, and development. It is designed to combine short-term humanitarian and long-term development responses, and its aim is durable reintegration for all categories of displaced people.

The creation of the senior-level policy network by the Council of the European Union involving all Member States and coordinated by European Asylum Support Office (EASO) carries out a joint assessment and interpretation of the situation in the main countries of origin. The network supports EU- level policy development based on common country of origin information (COI). Recently according to the EASO annual report from vulnerable countries the EU countries take the decision to return the migrants back to their homeland.

In conclusion, due to the ongoing situation, many Afghans continue to face extreme humanitarian crisis. Despite policies rendered by the EU on returning many Afghan refugees and asylum seekers back to their home country, it is evident that such actions would have an adverse effect because the current state of Afghanistan is ill equipped to effectively ensure sufficient security, respect for human rights, and more importantly, an equitable means of sustainability. Therefore, it is advisable that the EU’s focus should be on strengthening its asylum system and welcoming more Afghans in need until an effective multi-dimensional approach is implemented for a long-term strategy of returning Afghans home peacefully. 

Soman FAHIM, EU policies of migration management in Afghanistan, Highlight 18/2021, available at

The views expressed in the MEIG Highlights are personal to the author and neither reflect the positions of the MEIG Programme nor those of the University of Geneva.


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