Berlin-due to fears that the country will face a new wave of refugees-this time refugees fleeing Taliban rule in Afghanistan, this month’s election campaign for the new leader of Germany has cast a shadow.
According to German officials, in 2015, more than 1 million immigrants, many of them Syrians fleeing their own civil war, crossed the Mediterranean and Europe to reach Germany.
Angela Merkel did not participate in the September 26 elections, so Germany will soon have a new chancellor who will be responsible for formulating policies against Afghanistan and the unfolding refugee crisis.
Armin Laschet is a candidate for Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union Party, which currently shares power with the Social Democratic Party. Soon after the Taliban took power last month, he promised that there would be no more influx of refugees.
“The EU must be prepared for refugees to go to Europe. This time, we must provide humanitarian assistance to the region and the country of origin in a timely manner. 2015 cannot be repeated. We need to provide orderly protection for those refugees and are moving towards Europe. “Rashet told reporters on August 16.
Lashet’s rival — Olaf Scholz of the Social Democratic Party, who leads the polls — also insists that Europe must share the burden of any imminent influx of refugees.
“It’s not just Germany, but the whole of Europe. We must remember that almost all refugees, millions of people in the world, often seek refuge in neighboring countries,” Schultz told the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
Since August, Germany has evacuated more than 4,000 Afghans. The government stated that anyone directly employed by the German army in Afghanistan is entitled to asylum. However, the condition of the contractor is unclear.
The Afghan brothers Ahmad and Ikram, who did not want to reveal their real names, arrived in Germany in 2015 and became part of a wave of immigrants seeking a new life in Europe. They are currently holding protests outside the Berlin Foreign Ministry, demanding that Germany speed up the refugee asylum procedures.
Ikram said that he had worked with NATO forces in Afghanistan and recently showed VOA documents that he hopes will ensure his refugee status. After six years of hard work, they were all denied visas. The brothers were originally scheduled to be deported to Afghanistan in August, but were given a suspended sentence after the Taliban seized power.
“Afghanistan is no longer safe. People can’t let themselves die there—they themselves and their families. So, they say no matter how dangerous the road is, people say we want to leave, otherwise they will kill” Ai Hamed told reporters.
So, will Germany face another wave of immigration? Nora Brezger of the Berlin Refugee Council, an immigration support organization, says the situation is quite different.
“At the moment, people actually have no way to travel to Europe, like in 2015 or 2016. Therefore, more Afghan refugees are in countries surrounding Afghanistan, they are trapped in Bosnia on the Balkan route, they are trapped in Serbia, They are trapped in Greece, they are trapped in Turkey,” Bretzger told VOA.
“So, it’s not a question of how we should avoid people coming here. For us, what is more important is how we should let people come here because they need a safe place,” she said.
VOA recently interviewed several Afghan refugees currently stranded in Erzurum, Turkey. Among them was Yusuf, who said he was doing temporary work to save money to go to Europe. Germany continues to exert a strong attraction to those seeking a new life.
“We want to go to Germany, but the border is currently closed. If you want to go to Germany through Bulgaria, you will be imprisoned in Bulgaria. People smugglers say that the border is open and you can go – but we know they are closed. Once the border is closed. Open, God will, and we will go,” Yusuf said.
Germany-or the rest of Europe-seems unlikely to be ready to reopen these borders anytime soon.
Memet Aksakal of VOA contributed to this report.