Europe must come up with a “robust” response to tackle increased migration flows from Afghanistan, French President Emmanuel Macron has said.
In a pre-recorded televised address on Monday evening, Macron warned that “the destabilisation of Afghanistan also risks leading to irregular migratory flows towards Europe”.
“We must anticipate and protect ourselves against major irregular migratory flows that would endanger those who use them and feed trafficking of all kinds.”
“Europe alone cannot bear the consequences of the current situation,” he said.
Macron’s address came as distressing images out of Kabul showed desperate Afghans attempting to leave the Taliban-led country by clinging to departing aircraft and falling to their death.
Kabul airport was overrun with thousands of Afghans crowding the tarmac in the hope of getting out of the country while western countries including the US, the UK and multiple EU member states such as Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Czech republic scrambled to evacuate their nationals and Afghan employees.
France dispatched two military planes on Monday to carry out its evacuation.
Macron said that Paris, Berlin and other European nations will push for an “initiative to build a robust, coordinated and united response without delay, which will involve the fight against irregular flows, solidarity in the effort, the harmonisation of protection criteria, and the establishment of cooperation wih transit an host countries such as Pakistan, Turkey and Iran.”
He also stressed that France will not abandon Afghans who have worked for the country — from translators to kitchen staff — as well as artists, activists, journalists and others under threat from the Taliban.
The country has evacuated about 1,400 Afghan employees and their families since 2013, including 600 since May.
The French leader also warned that terrorist groups may try to take advantage of the events in Afghanistan. He called for the United Nations’ Security Council to “provide a responsible and united response” and said he discussed the situation with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“Afghanistan must not become the sanctuary for terrorism that it once was,” he went on. “We will also do everything to ensure that Russia, the United States and Europe can cooperate effectively because our interests are indeed the same.
Antonio Guterres, the UN’ Secretary-General also called on Monday for an international, unified response.
“The following days will be pivotal. The world is watching. We cannot and must not abandon the people of Afghanistan,” he said.
EU foreign ministers are scheduled to meet on Tuesday afternoon for an extraordinary meeting to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.