Concern over migration mounts in Greece as thousands try to leave Afghanistan
Updated 01:56, 28-Aug-2021
Evangelo Sipsas


There are still around 5,400 people at Kabul's airport, all of whom are hoping to be lucky enough to board one of the grey military planes leaving Afghanistan. It is a scene of chaos and uncertainty that brings back memories to Rezare Mokhtar, a member of the executive committee of the Afghans refugee and migrant community.

"When the civil war started, I was in Afghanistan with my family. I still have the scar from then," he said. "When I look at myself in the mirror, I always see the scar. Sometimes I feel pain. It's part of me now. Everywhere I go, it follows me. It will always hunt me.

"It will always remind me what I went through and who the Taliban are."

The return of the Taliban to power in Kabul has plunged the future of many Afghans into uncertainty and sparked concern that millions may head to Europe as they flee the war-torn country.

The prime minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, called on the European Union to support the countries neighboring Afghanistan to stop a new migrant wave from the Taliban-controlled country.

"We must not relive the 2015 drama and its consequences … There are many different views on what happened or what should have happened in Afghanistan. There is definitely a need for a European response to the crisis," said Greece's migration minister Notis Mitarachi.

Greece is still struggling in the aftermath of the 2015 migration crisis when thousands of refugees and asylum-seekers fled from conflicts in the Middle East to the Greek islands of Lesvos, Chios and Samos.


A French military transport aircraft evacuating people from Afghanistan on August 26. /AFP/ Etat Major des Armées

A French military transport aircraft evacuating people from Afghanistan on August 26. /AFP/ Etat Major des Armées


"We cannot have millions of people leaving Afghanistan and coming to the European Union … and certainly not through Greece," Mitarachi said.

Greece completed a 40-kilometer fence on its border with Turkey earlier this week. And a new surveillance system was in place to stop possible asylum seekers from trying to reach Europe.

The country is looking to prevent a recurrence of the events in 2020 when thousands of migrants and asylum seekers tried to storm the Greek border at Evros to pass through to the EU.

"The crisis in Afghanistan is creating new parameters in the geopolitical sphere, and at the same time creates the possibility of migratory flows," Michalis Chrisochoidis from the Ministry for Public Order and Citizen Protection said.

Greece currently hosts 40,000 Afghan asylum-seekers and refugees, who make up most migrants arriving in Greece.


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