Panel discussion on the situation in Afghanistan

“Forced Migration in Afghanistan and Afghan Refugees in the Region” – this was the topic of an online panel discussion organised by the joint project FFVT.

The joint project Forced Migration and Refugee Studies: Networking and Knowledge Transfer (FFVT) hosted an online panel discussion about “Forced Migration in Afghanistan and Afghan Refugees in the Region” on 8 November 2021. Academics and practitioners discussed and assessed the current situation. In a rich debate, Mojib Atal (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg), Muhammad Mudassar Javed (Society for Human Rights and Prisoners‘ Aid [SHARP], Pakistan), Dr Sibel Karadağ (Kadir Has University, Turkey), Dr Katja Mielke (Bonn International Centre for Conflict Studies), and Dr Hidayet Siddikoglu (billim Research and Social Studies, Afghanistan) shared their expertise and diverse knowledge about forcibly displaced Afghans in Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey.

The discussion illustrated the complexity of the situation in Afghanistan and in the region. It provided a stimulus for reflection on displacement issues in general. Hence, the breakdown of the Afghan government and the subsequent takeover by the Taliban in August 2021 was no surprise given the development in recent years and the country’s war history. Also, contrary to popular and social media portrayals, it seems unlikely that the current situation provokes a “new Afghan exodus”. Nonetheless, there is an immediate need of humanitarian assistance and action by the international community to better support and protect forcibly displaced Afghans in their country and in the region. Viewed in a broader context and under the acknowledgement that displacement is a key characteristic of the 21st century, the situation of Afghans is exemplary for issues of increasing global inequalities. Strong countries are trying to externalise migration issues by using peripheral countries as gatekeepers. At the same time, receiving countries try to exploit forced migrants as a negotiating mass in international relations.

In their final statements, the panellists provided recommendations for the international community. Accordingly, the international community should work with the Taliban through international organisations to ensure that humanitarian concerns are addressed in Afghanistan. In addition, it is necessary to provide Afghans with medium- and long-term perspectives in the country through international agreements. Finally, the adoption of a migration policy framework similar to the mechanisms in place between the European Union and Turkey was proposed.

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