EU responsibility to shelter them! Austria split over refugee plea as bloc faces crisis

Kabul: EU have ‘moral obligation’ says Austrian president

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Most European Union staff based in Afghanistan, including Afghans, have been evacuated from Kabul airport, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday. But Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen has argued more should be done by the EU member states to help Afghans fleeing the Taliban. Speaking at the Europe Forum in South Tyrol, Mr Van der Bellen said: “I believe that there is a legal, a moral, and a political obligation of the European Union and its member states to step up to our responsibility which includes offering shelter to people. This includes offering asylum.”

He added: “Austria, as argued by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, has indeed done a lot so far in taking in Afghan refugees as well.”

Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou supported the comments.

She noted: “There is no doubt that Europe is now standing at a crossroads faced with such current and future challenges.

“Our current development blueprint is outdated.”

Hungary is ending evacuations in Afghanistan after airlifting 540 people including Hungarian citizens and Afghans and their families who worked for Hungarian forces previously, the Hungarian Defence Minister Tibor Benko said on Thursday.

The two military passenger planes and all the troops involved in the operation have returned safely to Hungary, Benko told a news conference.

Pressure to complete the evacuations of thousands of foreigners and Afghans who worked with Western countries during the 20-year war against the Taliban has intensified, with all U.S. and allied troops due to leave the airport next week.

Hungary had airlifted a total of 540 people from Afghanistan, including Hungarian, Austrian, Afghan and American nationals, flying them by military plane from Kabul to Uzbekistan, and then by commercial airline jet to Budapest.

Injured people loaded into ambulance van near Kabul Airport

Benko said 57 families had been airlifted, among them 180 children.

“As for Afghan nationals, 87 percent of them have been evacuated, those who contacted us in time and could remain in contact, we have airlifted all of them,” Benko said.

Hungary has been present with troops in Afghanistan since the start of the NATO mission in 2003.

While the European Court of Human Rights asked the Polish and Latvian governments on Wednesday to intervene to help migrants camped on the Belarus border.

The fate of the migrants has become part of a broader dispute between the European Union and Belarus and groups such as Polish refugee charity Ocalenie Foundation have grown increasingly concerned for their welfare.


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The foundation has been communicating with a group of 32 migrants on the Belarus side of the border with Poland, using a translator with a megaphone from a distance. It said on Wednesday 25 of them were unwell, with 12 seriously ill.

It said they had no drinking water and had nothing to eat since Tuesday.

“Fifty-two-year-old Mrs. Gul will soon die in front of her five children. Rescue is needed NOW,” it said on Twitter.

It said the woman was from Afghanistan and had two sons and three daughters with her, the youngest of whom was aged 15. It declined to provide further details about her, but said the other migrants there were also from Afghanistan.

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