France and Switzerland have suspended the deportation of unsuccessful Afghan asylum seekers to their homeland due to the security situation in Afghanistan, which has descended into civil war. In addition, Denmark has decided to allow current and former local staff of its embassy in Kabul and Afghan coworkers of the Danish Armed Forces to stay temporarily in the Nordic country for two years.
France said on Thursday that it has suspended the deportation of unsuccessful Afghan asylum seekers already in early July due to the fighting between the radical Islamist Taliban movement and government forces.
“In view of the deterioration of the security situation in Afghanistan, France has suspended removals to this country since the beginning of July. We are following the development of the situation closely, in conjunction with our European partners,” said France the day after a similar step was announced by Germany and the Netherlands.
In 2020, most asylum seekers in France came from Afghanistan. There were 8,886 of them.
“The State Secretariat for Migration is suspending repatriations to Afghanistan until further notice due to the changed situation in the country,” the Swiss Immigration Office stated on Twitter on Thursday, adding that no new expulsions will be ordered.
“Preparations for repatriation will only be continued in the case of persons who have committed a criminal offense,” added the office, as quoted by Reuters.
The issue of the repatriation of Afghans is a divisive one across Europe. Germany and the Netherlands announced on Wednesday that they would temporarily suspend the deportation of Afghan asylum seekers due to the rapid worsening of the conflict in Afghanistan. It was a sudden and sharp reversal of their current approach, as just a few days earlier, six EU member states – Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Belgium, and Greece – called on the EU executive to continue deporting unsuccessful Afghan asylum seekers.
Denmark offers help to its co-workers
In the meantime, Denmark has announced that, due to the deteriorating situation in the country, it will offer a two-year temporary residence permit to Afghans who serve or have served in the Danish Embassy in Kabul or who have worked with the Danish Armed Forces in Afghanistan for the past two years. The offer also applies to their closest relatives.
“The security situation in Afghanistan is serious. The Taliban is gaining ground, and their development is accelerating more than many feared,” the Danish government said in a statement.
“We have a common responsibility to help the Afghans who are now threatened due to their connection and contribution to Denmark’s involvement in Afghanistan,” the government added.
Last week, the Danish Ministry of Defense announced that forty former and current employees of the Danish embassy in Kabul and four interpreters had asked for help. Danish troops have been operating in Afghanistan alongside US forces since 2002.
At the end of July, the Czech government also approved a program to help interpreters who worked with the Czech army in Afghanistan and their families. The program includes financial assistance and the possibility of granting asylum.
Title image: The Taliban delegation arrives for Afghan peace talks in Doha, Qatar, Thursday, Aug.12, 2021. (AP Photo/Hussein Sayed)