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EU Vows To Head Off 'Uncontrolled, Large-Scale Illegal Migration' After Afghan Collapse

Children sit in front of a banner reading "We say no to Taliban" as Afghan migrants demonstrate against the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan on the island of Lesbos, Greece, on August 16.

Talks among EU interior ministers meeting in Brussels have concluded with a joint statement saying the bloc will aim to stop a big influx of migrants from Afghanistan by boosting border security and providing aid.

The EU declaration avoided any promises to take in asylum seekers as Afghans scramble for safety with the fundamentalist Taliban militants taking over control of the country following the withdrawal of U.S.-led international forces from a 20-year conflict.

"Based on lessons learned, the EU [is] determined to act jointly to prevent the recurrence of uncontrolled, large-scale illegal migration movements faced in the past," the statement said.

The ministers said the bloc would prefer to work with Afghanistan's nearer neighbors in an effort to "reinforce their capacities to provide protection, [and] dignified and safe reception conditions" for refugees.

Luxembourg has reportedly sought stronger public pledges to resettle Afghans trying to escape life under the radical Islamist group, which kept up a two-decade insurgency against the UN-backed government in Kabul following the U.S.-led invasion after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

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Many Afghans' memories are fresh of harsh punishments, mass public executions, vice patrols, and strict bans on women's education, music and culture, and other aspects of life when the Taliban controlled much of the country in the mid- and late 1990s.

But the August 31 statement from Brussels said merely that "support could be provided in the form of resettlement on a voluntary basis, prioritizing vulnerable persons, such as women and children."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for EU help as concern mounts of a new migration wave to Europe similar to the influx in 2015 that caused deep rifts among European allies.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi has said he didn't expect a large number of refugees from Afghanistan to arrive in Europe, as long as those fleeing the country are provided with aid.

With reporting by dpa
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