France's Macron promises 'robust' EU response to possible migration wave out of Afghanistan

Journalist who witnessed fall of Saigon calls Afghanistan a ‘human tragedy’

Jim Laurie, a journalist who covered the fall of Saigon in 1975, discusses the ‘tragic’ Taliban takeover that has left many, including journalists, stranded in Afghanistan.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday warned of a possible surge in migration out of Afghanistan into Europe in the wake of the Taliban takeover and promised that the European Union would come up with a “robust” plan to “protect ourselves” from the wave.

“We must anticipate and protect ourselves against significant irregular migratory flows that would endanger the migrants and risk encouraging trafficking of all kinds,” Macron said in a televised address, according to France 24.

Macron spoke as European leaders scrambled to respond to the rapid takeover of Afghanistan, including Kabul, ahead of the planned U.S. withdrawal on Aug 31. It has raised fears that a new migration wave could soon hit the region.

Macron said France, along with other European partners, will work on a “robust, coordinated and united response” to any new influx of migrants from Afghanistan.

He said it would involve “an effort of solidarity, the harmonization of protection criteria and cooperation with transit countries” that Afghan migrants might travel through, such as Turkey.

“Europe cannot alone assume the consequences,” Macron said.

He emphasized the role of the U.N. Security Council, and added, “We will do everything so that Russia, the United States and Europe can cooperate efficiently because our interests are the same.”

There has been growing concern that the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan will spark a new migration crisis similar to the situation in Syria, which initiated the 2015 migration crisis in Europe. The surge overwhelmed countries across the continent and subsequently led to political victories for right-wing and populist parties in places like Italy, Austria and the U.K.

Macron, who faces a presidential election next year and a right-wing challenge from nationalist leader Marine Le Pen, noted that almost 800 Afghans had already been taken to French territory, France 24 reported.

Macron’s concern about a flow of migration was echoed in Greece, where the country’s migration minister called for a strong response from the European Union.

“We are clearly saying that we will not and cannot be the gateway for Europe for the refugees and migrants who could try to come to the European Union,” Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, Germany and the Netherlands last week suspended deportations to Afghanistan given the security situation. In Germany, there are nearly 30,000 Afghans required to leave.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also warned of a possible new wave of refugees and focused on the need to help Afghanistan’s neighboring countries

“This is primarily about helping neighboring countries to which the Afghan refugees may perhaps go,” Merkel told reporters.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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