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EU Parliament President Chides Bloc For Failing To Accept Afghan Refugees


European Parliament President David Sassoli said a "strong and common European voice on the international stage is more necessary now than ever."

The president of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, on September 1 criticized EU members' failure to "live up to its values" by responding to the Afghan crisis by taking in significant numbers of Afghans fleeing the country.

"We have seen countries outside the EU come forward to welcome Afghan asylum seekers, but we have not seen a single member state do the same," Sassoli, an Italian center-leftist, told the Bled Strategic Forum of defense ministers in Slovenia.

Sassoli was speaking as reports emerged of large numbers of Afghans streaming toward the country's borders after the closure of Kabul international airport when the last of the U.S.-led international troops left on August 30.

Many Afghans are wary of abuses on a massive scale reminiscent of the Taliban's regime ruling much of Afghanistan in 1996-2001.

European Union countries on August 31 said after a meeting of interior ministers that they would step up aid to Afghanistan and its neighbors but could not agree on a common policy on accepting Afghan asylum seekers.

Sassoli said a "strong and common European voice on the international stage is more necessary now than ever."

"Solidarity is what holds Europe together," Sassoli tweeted alongside a link to his speech criticizing the EU Home Affairs Council meeting the previous day. "We cannot pretend that the Afghan question does not concern us. Europe needs to live up to its values and give a common response."

At the same forum in Slovenia, European Council President Charles Michel said the 27-member bloc should take action to be better prepared for evacuations of its citizens in situations such as occurred in Afghanistan.

Michel warned that "we do not need another such geopolitical event to grasp that the EU must strive for greater decision-making autonomy and greater capacity for action in the world."

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on August 31 urged all nations to help the people of Afghanistan “in their darkest hour of need,” warning of a “deepening humanitarian and economic crisis” in that country.

He said nearly half the Afghan population needs humanitarian assistance to survive and that the war-ravaged country faces a total collapse of basic services for citizens.

“Amid a severe drought and with harsh winter conditions on the horizon, extra food, shelter, and health supplies must be urgently fast-tracked into the country,” Guterres said.

A senior board member of the Afghan central bank urged the U.S. Treasury and the International Monetary Fund to take steps to provide the Taliban-led government some access to Afghanistan’s reserves, telling Reuters that the country risks an "inevitable economic and humanitarian crisis.”

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP

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