There is a crisis in full swing in Afghanistan. The United States and NATO completed a full drawing down of their presence in the Middle Eastern country, leading to the Taliban sweeping in and reclaiming territory that was once held by the US forces.
It took the Taliban just over a month to retake the region after the US held strategic locations for upwards of 20 years.
The United Nations’ refugee agency is reporting that as many as 400,000 people have been forced out of their homes since the beginning of the year as a result of Taliban activity. Some organizations have warned that this could just be the beginning of a pattern that could spark a new refugee crisis in Europe.
After all, Europe is the closest region to the Middle East that many refugees turn to. It’s nearby, wealthy, and uniquely gentle with refugees. A UN representative in Afghanistan, Caroline Van Buren, told reporters that as many as 30,000 people are fleeing the country every week now that the Taliban is taking full control of the region.
Van Buren told reporters that things are likely to get worse before they get better. “We are now seeing a large number of people leaving Afghanistan: flights are full and these people, of course, are people who have travel documents, we are able to get visas, who have residency permits in other countries,” Van Buren stated.
“But now we’re also seeing a trend of people who are moving in an irregular way, people who are fleeing for their own safety without travel documents and they are much at risk for exploitation.”
Among those fleeing are personnel who may have helped the US during their occupation of the country. Translators who worked for the US military and contractors who worked on military bases are likely to be targeted by Taliban forces.
Europe’s political landscape has been drastically reshaped by the 2015-2016 refugee crisis when emigrants from Syria fled to Europe and sought refuge in the wealthy, relatively stable nations to the north. The EU struggled to keep up with the incoming population, and many right-wing political parties made opposition to immigration central to their platforms.
Now, the continent is bracing for another wave of immigrants from the Middle East. If history is any indication, this will likely spark another round of intense debates among the politicians of Europe over who should take responsibility for the immigrants, and what to do as the crisis in Afghanistan continues.