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PACE committee strongly condemns Taliban's persecution of Afghan women and girls, calls for urgent action on refugee crisis

Taliban's persecution of Afghan women and girls

PACE Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons strongly condemned the systematic persecution of women and girls decided on by the Taliban. They called on member States to respect UNHCR’s non-return advisory applying to Afghanistan, but also to Iran and Pakistan, which host more than 95% of Afghan refugees and where increasing cases of deportation are reported.

In a unanimously-approved draft resolution, based on a report prepared by Birgir Thórarinsson (Iceland, EPP/CD), the committee agreed that “the protracted Afghan refugee crisis cannot be forgotten.” The parliamentarians discussed ways to address the immediate protection needs of Afghans whilst “envisioning policy coordination mechanisms beyond the humanitarian and short-term protection approach.”

The committee acknowledged that since 2021, Afghanistan has been plunged into an unprecedented humanitarian and human rights crisis aggravated by decisions made by, and the isolation of, the de facto authorities. Across Europe, recognition rates for Afghans vary widely. Many Afghans face deportation and pushbacks or are left in administrative limbo.

According to the committee, systematic registration of Afghans in Europe “should be considered a priority” to protect them, provide them with durable integration prospects, and to allow family reunification across Europe. The parliamentarians, therefore, called for developing “specific assistance and humanitarian resettlement programmes for women and girls victims or at risk of violence.” They also emphasised the need for material support to receiving states to protect Afghans and address anti-refugee sentiment “through tangible support to host countries,” including in Europe. Council of Europe’s programmes and instruments through the funding of the European Development Bank, or the participation in the European Qualification Passport for Refugees are reminded as tools available to materialise such solidarity.

The committee also proposed streamlining visa processing in European embassies in Iran and Pakistan, focusing on Afghan women, girls, and individuals on wanted lists. The members agreed that “international isolation will only hurt the people of Afghanistan” and argued in favour of a dialogue with all political stakeholders in Afghanistan, including the de facto authorities, exploring ways for Member States to resume consular services in Kabul.

The report is due to be debated by the Assembly on Friday, 13 October, during its autumn plenary session.