New EU agreement paves the way for expulsion of Afghan asylum seekers, NGOs warn

The Joint Way Forward DeclarationThe EU Parliament should ensure that all agreements address the needs of vulnerable people, the NGOs argue. Photo: European Parliament Brussels, 2 November 2016 - The International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) and another 24 civil society organizations are expressing deep concern about an agreement recently signed by the European Union that paves the way for the return to war-torn Afghanistan of thousands of Afghan asylum seekers and other migrants currently residing in Europe.

The agreement on return comes into force at a time when violence in Afghanistan has intensified to record levels, with the United Nations reporting to governments - and to the European Union - that more than 245,000 people were internally displaced as a result of fighting since the start of the year alone.

The Joint Way Forward Declaration lays out measures to “facilitate the return and readmission of Afghan nationals” but fails to provide sufficient guarantees against potential human rights violations, such as refoulement  and collective expulsions. More troublingly - the NGOs point out - the agreement allows for the return of unaccompanied children, yet it lacks any reference to the determination of their best interest prior to departure, which is required by European law.

"The content of the recent EU-Afghanistan declaration on a Joint Way Forward on migration issues gives clear signals that Europe will once more engage in a conduct that puts into question its obligation to protect those fleeing conflicts or persecution and to safeguard the human rights of all persons", the civil society organizations' statement reads.

The full text of the civil society statement is available below.