Estonia welcomes EU-Afghanistan migration agreement
Estonian ambassador to Afghanistan Väino Reinart on Monday welcomed the agreement concluded between the European Union and Afghanistan to speed up the repatriation of Afghan nationals not granted asylum.
“The agreement represents substantial progress in dealing with illegal migration originating in Afghanistan,” Reinart said. Reinart is the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ deputy secretary general for economic and development affairs as well as the country’s ambassador to Afghanistan.
Reinart pointed out that this subject was important to many EU member states, and that Estonia considered the agreement a necessary step. The political agreement provided a framework also for those countries that did not have bilateral agreements with Afghanistan, Reinart added.
The EU and Afghanistan signed an agreement on Monday to speed up the return of Afghan citizens who do not qualify for asylum. The deal was signed just ahead of a donor conference in Brussels for the conflict-torn country.
Afghanistan commits to readmit citizens not permitted to stay in Europe and supply travel documents for migrants without papers within a month. In turn, the cost for sending people back will be covered by the EU.
At an international donors’ conference in Brussels on Wednesday the EU is expected to pledge one billion euros a year to Afghanistan until 2020. EU officials emphasized that the efficient handling of migrants’ cases was not a condition for receiving the funds.
According to EU requirements, special cases, such as single women, unaccompanied minors, the old, and the sick, can only be deported if they have families to return to and their safety can be guaranteed.
Figures provided by the Estonian Police and Border Guard show that 48 Afghan nationals have applied for asylum in Estonia from 1997 to 2015, Afghans being the fifth-largest group of asylum seekers by nationality.