The EU is putting together a proposal to avoid a repeat of the 2015 migrant crises with a €600 million ($710 million) fund for Afghanistan's neighbours to help them host refugees fleeing the country following America's hasty withdrawal.
Iran, which has been under international sanctions, along with Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan could all be possible beneficiaries if they agree to host refugees. According to the Financial Times, the €600 million would be part of an Afghanistan assistance package of roughly €1 billion ($1.18 billion). This would include about €300 million ($354 million) in direct humanitarian assistance, most of it earmarked for women, girls and other vulnerable groups in the country.
Details of the draft proposal were discussed in an emergency meeting yesterday in Brussels by the home affairs ministers of the 27-country bloc where they also discussed the broader fallout from the change of power in Afghanistan. The last US soldiers flew out of Kabul on Monday evening, as US ended its 20-year war in the country.
It's expected that the final refugee package will be adjusted in consultation with other international partners, including the UK, with a first possible meeting taking place next week among G7 interior ministers.
"We are at the beginning of the budgetary cycle, we're not scraping the barrel as we were in 2015," European Commission vice-president Margaritis Schinas told the Financial Times. "I don't think money will be the problem."
EU officials are said to be concerned over the influx of more refugees and are looking to act swiftly before a repeat of the 2015 Syrian migrant crises which saw around a million refugees enter the continent. Headlines were dominated at the time by tragic mass drownings , or footage of crowds moving through different countries. The episode triggered a bitter row amongst member states and saw the rise of far-right groupswho used the refugee crises to make electoral gains.
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Horst Seehofer, Germany's interior minister, said that the EU needed to act quickly "to avoid another failure of the west". He urged the EU to accelerate diplomatic efforts to get the proposal agreed. "If we act quickly, we won't repeat 2015. If we make mistakes and debate for too long, then it won't lead to a good development in the coming months."
In 2016 the EU struck a deal with Turkey worth some $3 billion. The package pledged funds to help Ankara host around four million Syrian refugees and stop them making their way to Europe.