[Berlin, 18 August 2021] The situation in Afghanistan is outrageous. Due to the Taliban takeover, many people are on the run, including women, youth, people belonging to ethnic minorities and the LGBTIQ community, human rights defenders, artists and journalists. Many Afghans are waiting at the airport in Kabul for a chance to leave the country now. Activists and experts have been warning of such a situation for years. We have to recognize that this is a humanitarian crisis where we have to raise our voices in support of Afghan friends, partners and activists committed to peace and justice.
The EU and EU member states have to provide immediate relief in sending rescue planes as long as it is still possible.
Although the European Union supports in principle the achievement of gender justice and the preservation of human rights in Afghanistan, it has misjudged the situation and failed to provide adequate assistance for those whose lives are in severe danger now. Many EU member states have taken part in the military mission in Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11. The abrupt withdrawal and closure of embassies, and the focus on protecting their own personnel and a few selected Afghans, show how little interest there is in the safety - even survival - of the Afghan population and how little understanding there is for the complex situation on the ground.
We witness that the "War against terror" is doomed to failure.
The assumptions that fundamentalism could be defeated by the use of force and military interventions are proving to be wrong. "Good governance" cannot be imposed or installed without full inclusion of the Afghan population. The "peace deals" with the Taliban were not legitimate and tragically failed.
Until recently, some EU member states were still deporting people to Afghanistan, even though the situation had been deteriorating for weeks and months. Migration debates stand in the way of a constructive and cooperative approach to the situation and endangers many lives.
Now is not the time to argue about the number of people that every EU member state is supposed to take in.
Together with Afghan peace activists, we urge the EU and all member states to demand an open access to the airport for all those who wish to leave Afghanistan. Women’s rights activists, who have been advocating for women and girls for decades in an extremely difficult security context, must now be evacuated immediately.
Border crossings must be similarly guaranteed. Humanitarian access must be enabled and protected so that the basic needs and rights of the Afghan population can be met, who are also affected by COVID-19 and drought.
In a next step, the EU and all EU member states should immediately start to advocate for an inclusive peace process in that encourages and strongly supports Afghan women and girls and other marginalized groups. All resolutions relating to the "Women, Peace, and Security" agenda must be fully implemented.
Furthermore, people from Afghanistan who are already in the EU must receive assurance of their residence and deportations must continue to be suspended consistently and for the long term.
Likewise, the EU and all EU member states must work to ensure that war crimes and crimes against humanity are tried before the International Criminal Court.
Finally, we strongly oppose further military activities in Afghanistan or elsewhere. All states that were involved in the military intervention must take a critical look at their own mistakes in order not to repeat them in the future. The EU and EU member states must analyze the root causes of the conflict and terrorism in Afghanistan, including gender inequality, ethnic tensions, poverty, and environmental disasters. They must be tackled by developing conflict prevention measures and civilian conflict management.
Jennifer Menninger (Executive Director of WILPF Germany and EWL Board Member) & Heidi Meinzolt (WILPF Board Member for Europe)