Ahead of the extraordinary Council meeting this afternoon, where EU foreign ministers will discuss the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, the Socialists and Democrats are calling for: rapid relocation and safe shelter for Afghan partners; urgent assessment, organisation and distribution of humanitarian aid for the Afghan population; and setting out clear red lines for the Taliban concerning respect for women’s rights and minorities, and cracking down on foreign terrorists.
At the request of the Socialists and Democrats Group, High Representative Josep Borrell will discuss the situation in Afghanistan with the European Parliament’s foreign affairs and development committees in the coming days.
Pedro Marques, S&D MEP and vice-president for foreign policy, said:
“As we watch with disbelief and dismay the Taliban taking control and power in Afghanistan, we call on EU foreign ministers to urgently come up with a plan to help those who helped us and who are in grave danger today. Afghan interpreters, cooks and others, who supported our armed forces, as well as representatives of NGOs and human rights activists working in Afghanistan to promote democracy, freedom, human and women’s rights are must be rapidly relocated and granted safe shelter in Europe.
“With hundreds of thousands of men, women and children fleeing from the Taliban forces, a humanitarian catastrophe is underway with serious shortages of food, water and vital medicines – in the midst of a Covid-19 pandemic. The international community is called upon to urgently organise and distribute humanitarian relief. We call on the External Action Service and the Commission to rapidly assess the needs, together with other international donors, and set up distribution channels.
“Ensuring the security, safety and dignity of its citizens – particularly the most vulnerable groups such as women, children and minorities – is the highest responsibility and duty of any government. Girls must continue to be able to go to school. Women must have access to healthcare and be able to work and move freely. Women’s and girls’ rights are not negotiable for us.”
Tonino Picula, S&D MEP and spokesperson on foreign policy said:
“Twenty years of investment by NATO countries in nation-building, training and equipping the Afghani armed forces have come crumbling down within days as the Taliban take over the country. Serious questions will need to be asked and answered on how this mission could have gone so terribly wrong.
“These are bitter days for the Western alliance and we must learn lessons from it. But it is the Afghan people who are paying the most painful price. Our priority must be to alleviate their suffering as much as we can, especially by relocating those in grave danger and ensuring humanitarian relief for those most in need.
“We will closely monitor the conduct of the Taliban, especially when it comes to women’s rights, the safety of minorities and cracking down on foreign terrorists. Afghanistan must never again become a safe haven for terrorists. Failures to respect these red lines must lead to sanctions, diplomatic isolation and the cutting of direct EU development aid for state-related entities.
“The S&D Group has requested a meeting of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs and development committees with EU High Representative Josep Borrell to urgently discuss the pressing issues of relocating Afghan partners, organising humanitarian aid for the Afghan people and how to best ensure women’s and girls’ rights are respected. We will do everything in our power to stand by the Afghan people in solidarity.”