Afghanistan: Pakistan are 'biggest victims' says minister

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Josep Borrell, the bloc’s top foreign diplomat, said he would provide support to countries in the regions to cope with the “negative spillovers” that can be expected from increasing numbers of refugees. The plans were discussed at an emergency meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers called to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. A growing number of European governments are fearful that the Taliban’s Afghan takeover could spark a repeat of the 2015 migrant crisis.

During that period the EU was rocked by almost a million people arriving from war-torn Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan via the Mediterranean.

In 2016, Brussels agreed to fork out billions of pounds to Turkey in the hope of controlling illegal migrant crossings into the bloc.

They agreed a five-year deal under which Ankara was given €6billion to stop the flow of migrants to Greece.

The money was meant to help cover the costs of hosting some 72,000 migrants who had illegally travelled from Turkey to the EU, as well as bolstering a crackdown on people smugglers.

Similar tactics could be used again in the hope of preventing would-be asylum seekers from travelling to Europe.

Pakistan, which has a long land border with Afghanistan, could be just one of the countries targeted by the EU for a new scheme to curb the flow of migrants.

A like-minded proposal was floated by Austria yesterday ahead of the meeting of EU foreign ministers.

Vienna has emerged as an anti-immigration hardliner under the leadership of chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

His government proposed setting up “deportation centres” in countries nearby to Afghanistan in order to keep sending illegal migrants back to the area.

Interior minister Karl Nehammer and foreign minister Alexander Schallenberg said: “If deportations are no longer possible because of the restrictions imposed on us by the European Convention on Human Rights, alternatives must be considered.

“Deportation centres in the region around Afghanistan would be one possibility. That requires the strength and support of the European Commission. I will suggest it at the council of interior ministers.”

The EU is expecting potentially millions of Afghans to flee their homeland after it was captured by the Taliban.

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Greece earlier today warned that the EU would need to broker a joint solution to prevent the country from becoming their gateway to Europe.

Migration minister Notis Mitarachi said: “We are clearly saying that we will not and cannot be the gateway of Europe for the refugees and migrants who could try to come to the European Union.

“We cannot have millions of people leaving Afghanistan and coming to the European Union … and certainly not through Greece.”

Greece was on the frontline of the RU’s migrant crisis in 2015 when nearly a million people fled conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan for Europe.

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Athens is increasingly nervous that the collapse of society in Afghanistan could lead to a repeat.

The Greek migration minister added: “The solution needs to be common, and it needs to be a European solution.”

Speaking after the meeting of foreign ministers, Mr Borrell said: “And the main conclusions of this meeting has been that the first objective, the priority, is to ensure the evacuation in the best conditions of security of the European nationals still present in the country, and also of the Afghan citizens who worked with us for more than 20 years, if they want to leave the country.”

He also floated plans to continue sending humanitarian aid to Afghanistan but only if human rights are maintained.

The EU’s foreign affairs chief insisted the bloc must enter into talks with the Taliban after they won the war.

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