Thousands of Afghan refugees, along with other people seeking protection, find themselves stuck along the Balkan route in Europe. Their attempts to cross the borders into the European Union have been named “the game” due to the extreme physical and psychological violence they endure trying to cross, often ending in failure, severe beatings, or even death.
They are now also trapped on the Belarus and Polish border, pushed back and forth by the Belarus and Polish security forces and vigilante groups. We are yet again witnessing the degradation and dehumanisation of people seeking refuge. The effects of militarisation, racialisation, and the EU’s prioritisation of borders over people are being bluntly laid out in front of us. People, children, and unaccompanied minors are freezing to death, being left without water or food in the cold, weaponised in the worst possible way. They are being used as pawns in the geopolitical games between the European Union and Belarus, with a complete disregard for their lives and dignity.
The governments of Europe, and beyond, regularly violate people’s rights to seek protection, and they criminalise solidarity. If we fail to call them out for the violence they are inflicting over people on the move, more violence will come. If we fail to call out the hypocrisies of the governments that brag about the evacuations of a few hundreds of Afghans while abandoning thousands at the borders, we will allow the governments to continue to deepen the humanitarian crisis until there is no more crisis to talk about – just the new normal.
And it was these same governments that created this crisis in the first place.
After the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, the US began pouring billions of dollars into “border security” – resulting in the increased militarisation of the US border with Mexico, along with other measures aimed at preventing migration. Meanwhile, in NATO countries and other European states, the “Global War on Terror” has created a financial boon to private “security companies”, as well as poured money into governmental agencies (police, border police etc.), all of which have profited from anti-migration measures, including the construction of Fortress Europe. The human rights abuses committed by the states that claim to hold the human right banner high, are horrific.
We demand from countries around the world, in particular the member states of the European Union, the USA, Australia, and others, to uphold the international refugee protection regime and demonstrate accountability towards the people of Afghanistan, and other people in need of protection. Their obligations go beyond immediate humanitarian assistance. Welcoming refugees and supporting the people of Afghanistan in rebuilding their lives should be an integral part of mechanisms put in place to redress past violations and harms committed against them.
This is a question of international solidarity, and it goes to the very core of our humanity.
– All people fleeing Afghanistan – and others – must be offered a safe and dignified life as per the international protection regime.
-All those that find themselves in inhumane and degrading conditions along the Balkan route, the current hotspot and humanitarian disaster that that Belarus–Polish border has turned into, as well as in other places around the world (Australia, US, etc.) must immediately be provided with international protection and supported in building a life of dignity.
-All states must ensure equitable sharing of the responsibility for hosting and supporting refugees from Afghanistan, and elsewhere.
-The EU and the US should immediately shift their focus from protecting and militarising the borders to protecting the people and ensuring everyone’s right to seek asylum and life in dignity.
-All funds must be divested from “border security” and instead put toward social services to provide care and integration support for people on the move.
-We demand from the UN and other agencies who hold mandates on protection of refugees and migrants to act immediately and accordingly to human rights standards. We demand a structural change in their system of managing the so-called migration crisis which has created over-crowded and securitised camps, lacking minimum conditions for decent living.
No humans are “illegal” – open the borders, end the “games”!
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In our series of blogs about Afghanistan, we are bringing new perspectives and voices to the mainstream narrative told by the media. Read the blog series or visit our webpage dedicated our work on Afghanistan.