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Migration crisis headed to Europe?

December 10, 2021

Summary: With no positive outcomes for Afghanistan any time soon, people-smugglers report that twice as many Afghans are leaving Afghanistan than they did in 2014

Depressing listening from the BBC’s “Briefing Room” of 9 December 2022.  An impressive selection of experienced Afghanistan analysts (Sekunder Kermani, Mike Martin, Ahmed Rashid, Laurel Miller and Ashley Jackson) gave a uniformly grim overview of the prospects facing the country in the coming months. 

The Taliban’s harsh system seems ill-equipped, unwilling and unable to transform from fragmented guerrilla factions into coherent governance.  The international community offers little other than handwringing concern and a continuation of sanctions in the midst of a “perfect storm” of humanitarian crises.   As Ashley Jackson put it, it is hard to imagine a policy more likely to radicalise Afghanistan, increase the drug trade and drive up migration.  Mike Martin put the chances of disintegration or localised civil war at 50/50 in 2022.    

It seems inevitable that some form of new migration crisis is headed towards Europe, perhaps impacting as early as Spring 2022, according to Mike Martin.  He noted that in October alone, around 300,000 Afghans had moved into Iran from Nimruz province in south-western Afghanistan.  Although Iran is often a final destination because of the black-market employment opportunities, it is also a major springboard for further onward migration into Europe, via two main routes (Turkey-Greece-Italy-France and Turkey-Balkans/Eastern Europe-Germany).  The statistic that shocked me came from the people-smugglers in the area who reported that twice as many Afghans were leaving Afghanistan than they were in 2014.

Having covered quite a few Afghan asylum seeker cases since 2012, up until now, the majority of Afghan asylum seekers to the UK were young, poorly-educated males, in their teens and early twenties.  It seems plausible that a more diverse selection may head to Europe this time, including women, the educated middle class (doctors, lawyers, academics, journalists) and ex-government and ex-military.  This would be a worrying “brain drain” at a time when the country is on its knees.  Perhaps smuggling routes, tactics and techniques are also adapting to bypass European reluctance to see another “2014”.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 10, 2021 5:50 pm

    So, they do now and will ever more, as the brain rain continues, rely on the poppy crop for revenue? If so, this will ultimately lead to some kind of explosion, I feel.

  2. December 10, 2021 5:54 pm

    It is a big concern (even though the Taliban are theoretically opposed to drugs). But it is an attractive option for Afghan farmers who currently have little else to turn to.

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