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Ambassador in limbo makes plea for Afghans to be allowed into EU | Afghanistan

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In different occasions, Mirwais Samadi would have welcomed a marketing campaign to deter his compatriots from opting to turn into unlawful migrants and embarking on the usually harmful trek from Afghanistan to Europe.

By far the worst a part of his job as Afghanistan’s ambassador to Athens – other than the unusual limbo he has discovered himself in representing a nation whose leaders he refuses to recognise – is notifying households again dwelling of family members who died alongside the best way. Invariably they’re the victims of smuggling networks motivated solely by revenue.

However Greece’s announcement of a media blitz to discourage “unlawful migrant flows” from Afghanistan solely weeks after Taliban militants seized energy has additionally left the ambassador appalled.

Within the face of European hostility to Afghans heading west – and because the new regime vows to rule in accordance to a ruthless interpretation of Islamic regulation – Samadi, like different profession diplomats nonetheless loyal to the previous regime, has discovered himself imploring EU governments to assume once more.

“It is a time for solidarity, not the time for the west to flip its again on the individuals of Afghanistan and abandon them or have a marketing campaign that urges [them] to keep,” he informed the Guardian in his cavernous ambassadorial workplace. “In regular circumstances I’d not be in favour of unlawful motion however when persons are compelled to go away due to the safety scenario and for concern of their lives, what ought to we do?”

The centre-right authorities of the prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, unveiled the EU-funded initiative, saying its objective was “to clarify that Greece guards its borders in an organised method and doesn’t permit unlawful migration flows”.

Amid fears of the nation once more turning into the gateway for 1000’s of Europe-bound refugees determined to escape the excesses of Islamist hardliners nonetheless looking for worldwide legitimacy, the Greek migration ministry admitted the transfer had been prompted by “the newest geopolitical developments in Afghanistan”.

Beneath the marketing campaign, mainstream Afghan newspapers and social media will be focused in what officers have referred to as a blitzkrieg of messaging geared toward dissuading Afghans from paying smugglers to assist them flee.

Platforms together with YouTube will be employed, with movies reportedly being ready to convey the unvarnished actuality of what awaits individuals in the event that they succeed in reaching Greece by way of irregular means. Final week asylum seekers on Samos had been moved into a “closed” and highly fortified reception centre – the primary of 5 EU-funded services on Aegean isles – that’s encircled by military-style fencing and geared up with magnetic gates extra resonant of a jail than a migrant camp, NGOs say.

Afghanistan’s ambassador to Athens, Mirwais Samadi, in his workplace. {Photograph}: Helena Smith/The Guardian

In his good blue go well with, cufflink shirt, loafers and yellow tie, Samadi, who served in Washington prior to arriving in Athens in 2019, is visually every little thing the Taliban should not. Like Afghan ambassadors worldwide, he was appointed by the now exiled international minister, Mohammad Hanif Atmar, with whom he and his counterparts nonetheless confer as representatives of Kabul’s “legit authorities” in weekly on-line Zoom conferences.

“Nobody has informed us to take down our flag,” he stated, pointing to the ensign the Islamic Republic used earlier than the Taliban takeover. “We’re in a limbo scenario the place nobody recognises the Taliban, however how lengthy that may go on for, nobody is aware of.”

Western powers haven’t recognised the Taliban’s lately introduced authorities, and its international minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, has but to nominate any representatives to substitute Afghanistan’s contingent of ambassadors overseas if diplomatic relations are established. Consequently, its abroad missions stay in the fingers of pro-western profession diplomats astounded by the course of occasions in their homeland, not sure of how they are going to survive financially and holding conferences with officers who’ve fled the nation.

Samadi, whose spouse is a outstanding ladies’s rights activist, belongs firmly in that college. His time in Athens has been a wake-up name to the desperation that drives Afghans to search refuge in Europe, typically at nice private value.

Eight months in the past, the diplomat says, he too pressed the case for his compatriots not to embark on perilous journeys to Greece, lengthy on the frontline of migrant and refugee arrivals from Asia, Africa and the Center East.

“The toughest a part of my job is having to inform households of kids who’re discovered lifeless in the ocean, or in the forests across the Greek-Turkish [land] border,” he stated. “In interviews with all the foremost TV channels in Afghanistan I inspired individuals, again then, not to try to come illegally. I stated please don’t ship your kids on these harmful journeys. However now circumstances are fully totally different.”

Describing the scenario as distinctive, he warned: “If nations shut their borders it would be a human disaster … now will not be the right time for such a marketing campaign, we’ve got all seen the heartbreaking scenes.”

As an alternative, he stated, all nations ought to be holding the Taliban to account as a result of if the scenario inside Afghanistan had been to enhance – with higher job alternatives, safety and freedom of expression for ladies, human rights activists and civil society – the need to go away would diminish.

“Now’s the time to make the Taliban accountable,” he stated. “If the Taliban don’t enter negotiations with different Afghan political teams and agree to type a broad-based, inclusive authorities primarily based on rule of regulation and respect for the rights of everybody then we must always not be stopping however serving to to get susceptible individuals out.”

Afghans account for the most important variety of asylum seekers in Greece – though the overwhelming majority are headed on elsewhere – with an estimated 40,000 registered in the nation.

A nondescript constructing perched on an elevation in Athens’ northern suburbs, the Afghan embassy was deluged day by day by tons of requiring passports and different paperwork to apply for refugee recognition standing, prior to the pandemic.

“To date solely about 10,000 of the 40,000 right here have had their requests processed,” Samadi stated. “The remainder are nonetheless ready. Over 95% arrive with out paperwork and over 90% are in a really unhealthy financial scenario. They’ve offered every little thing, their garments, properties, jewelry to make the journey.”

Gates at the new refugee camp in Samos
Gates on the new refugee camp in Samos. {Photograph}: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/Rex/Shutterstock

Earlier than the Greek marketing campaign even will get off the bottom there are questions as to whether or not it would have any impact. “Migrants belief their very own sources and have their very own method of understanding issues,” stated Gianluca Rocco, the chief of mission of the Worldwide Group for Migration (IOM), the UN migration company, in Greece. “They don’t pay attention a lot to campaigns. Normally they belief their community of households and pals greater than messages from governments of Europe.”

For the reason that fall of Kabul, Greece – which additionally took half in US-led evacuation efforts in August – has taken in about 65 Afghan refugees, together with six feminine MPs who arrived en route to being resettled with their households in the US. Athens’ international ministry described them as “defenders of basic values, freedom of expression and gender equality”.

Samadi stated he might sympathise with the home stress the Greek authorities confronted however that it was additionally up to the EU to arise for the core values it represented.

“Hundreds [of refugees] have arrived right here and I do know Greece has challenges, however there ought to be a joint EU effort to deal with this widespread problem,” the ambassador stated. “Folks in Afghanistan now are in a state of shock. But when the scenario doesn’t enhance then positively in the approaching months, as soon as winter has handed, there’s a sturdy chance of huge migrant flows in the direction of Greece and the EU.”

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