EU proposal: cut Afghan aid to encourage deportations
A proposal from the EU would use the threat of a drop in aid money to Afghanistan as a way to coax its government to take back citizens whose asylum applications were rejected in the EU.
Swedish Radio News confirmed the proposal for so-called "checkbook diplomacy" in a classified document prepared by the EU Commission and sent to ambassadors on March 3, according to UK daily The Telegraph.
Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation Isabella Lövin told Swedish Radio that there should not be any conditions on the aid money.
"It's not in accordance with international principles which we strive for and which the world has agreed upon for a long time," Lövin said.
While the security situation in Afghanistan has worsened with parts of the country falling to the Taliban, it has become increasingly difficult for the EU to send back asylum seekers who are not granted a residence permit.
The secret document estimates more than 80,000 Afghans may be deported in the near future from the EU. There were 11,000 civilian casualties last year in Afghanistan. The Telegraph reported that 1.1 million Afghans are on the run within the country and 5.4 million are staying in Pakistan and Iran.
The EU Commission document indicates that Afghan authorities might change their tune with conditions on their aid money. According to The Telegraph, aid money from the EU provides 40 percent of Afghanistan's GDP.
But asked if Sweden would agree to set conditions on aid money, International Development Cooperation Minister Lövin said she would not comment.
"At present this is a proposal, and nothing that I really should comment on. These are internal discussions going on, but we do proceed from the idea that aid should be given in an effective manner. And you do that according to a country's own needs," she said.
Ahmad Zaki Khalil, who heads the refugee affairs committee of the Afghan Association in Stockholm and who works for the Swedish Network of Refugee Support Groups, told Radio Sweden that many of the Afghan asylum seekers in question did not arrive to Europe with the wave of refugees in 2015. He said that many had spent years living in Pakistan and Iran and had faced difficulties in their asylum processes often because they lacked adequate identification.
"Sweden should respect Afghanistan's desire to refuse any forced expulsions and to release any Afghans who are currently in detention centers. And also to allow Afghans who have spent a long time in Sweden to have their deportation decisions reconsidered because they cannot be returned to a foreseeable future," he said.