The World Today for August 30, 2021

NEED TO KNOW

AFGHANISTAN

No Vacancy

Airbnb will offer 20,000 Afghan refugees free, temporary housing around the world as they seek to reestablish new lives after the militant, theocratic Taliban reasserted control over their Central Asian country, reported TechCrunch.

Unfortunately, however, the platform can’t offer a sustainable solution to the refugee crisis that has erupted in the wake of the Taliban takeover. Already, leaders from Ankara to Europe and from Beijing to New Delhi have signaled their unwillingness to take thousands of desperate Afghans seeking to flee.

Pakistan and Iran have already accepted by far the most Afghan refugees who have left their war-torn nation in the past 20 years, wrote Tazreena Sajjad, a lecturer at American University’s School of International Service, in the Conversation. Together, they have given asylum to more than 2.2. million Afghans. Both say they can’t take many more. In the meantime, argued Sajjad, efforts to accommodate the latest wave of refugees have been chaotic at best.

Meanwhile, “Afghan Refugees Find a Harsh and Unfriendly Border in Turkey,” was the New York Times headline recently. After traveling 1,400 miles through Iran, Afghan refugees encounter Turkish border guards who push them back. After Turkey, they aim to continue onto Europe in a movement that came to a peak in 2015 as the Syrian Civil War raged.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan doesn’t want to accept more refugees because his country is already hosting 3.6 million Syrians and more than 300,000 Afghans. The refugees became “a burning political issue” as the Turkish economy declined during the coronavirus pandemic.

Europe has proposed that Turkey become a hub for processing the anticipated migrant exodus from Afghanistan but Erdogan has rejected the idea, added Voice of America. Meanwhile, Greece has built a wall on the Turkish border to keep refugees out, said CNN.

European leaders also face significant turmoil from voters who have shown increasing support for xenophobic politics. They still don’t have a unified policy for the continent despite the 2015 crisis, Politico explained. Most leaders are explicitly saying Afghan refugees should not come to Europe. “It must be our goal to keep the majority of the people in the region,” said Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer, according to the Associated Press.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has flatly said no to relocating Afghans to neighboring Central Asian countries that are former Soviet republics like Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, Reuters reported, saying he wouldn’t want to allow terrorists posing as refugees enter these countries.

China, which borders Afghanistan, is wary of a refugee influx, Bloomberg wrote. Chinese strategists also claim that the Taliban have supported separatist forces in Xinjiang, where China has perpetuated a crackdown against the local Muslim ethnic Uyghur community that has been described as genocide, the Washington Post noted.

About 25 countries have been more welcoming including Uganda, Columbia and Costa Rica, NBC News reported. And North Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania –Balkan countries whose populations have experienced violence themselves – said they would take in refugees,

“We are rescuing a peaceful population who have cherished democracy for 20 years and who were a help and support to our military on their missions over there,” North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said.

These tiny countries might not have as much space or resources to offer as their wealthier Western European EU counterparts but they are willing to share it.

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