Taliban soldiers outside the airport. Reuters

As the Taliban gains ground, France declares a halt on refugee returns, following Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, and Norway. As the Taliban continues to make broad advances in the war-torn nation despite the departure of foreign forces, France has become the latest European country to declare that it has halted attempts to deport   Afghan refugees.

A spokesperson for the French interior ministry confirmed on Thursday that deportations were stopped in early July due to the worsening security situation.

The confirmation came after the Taliban seized control of Ghazni, a city 130 kilometers (80 miles) southwest of Kabul, for the 10th time in less than a week.

France’s decision comes after Germany and the Netherlands reversed their positions on the contentious deportations, saying on Wednesday that they, too, would halt the deportations of Afghan migrants.

Approximately 30,000 Afghan refugees are affected by the decision in Germany alone.

Deportations have also been halted in Finland and Sweden, and Norway, a member of the European Economic Area.

Berlin and Amsterdam had earlier signed a letter alongside Austria, Belgium, Denmark, and Greece asking the EU’s executive branch to “intensify discussions” with the Afghan government to guarantee that refugee deportations would continue.

The ministers wrote to the European Commission, “Stopping repatriation sends the wrong signal and is likely to encourage even more Afghan nationals to abandon their country for the EU.”

Later, a spokesperson for the European Commission told reporters that it is “up to each [EU] member state to evaluate whether a return is feasible on an individual basis.”

In addition to withdrawing from the letter, Germany has said that if the Taliban seizes Kabul and tries to govern the nation alone, Berlin would stop its 430 million euro ($505 million) assistance to Afghanistan.

Western countries would not recognize any Taliban administration that comes to power by force, according to US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad. The Taliban offensive’s speed has apparently shocked US officials, who promised in April that all US forces would be gone by the end of August.

In July, the US launched a particular visa program for Afghan government employees and their families, stating that 2,500 Afghans had been authorized for quick migration to the US. Approximately 20,000 people have applied for the program.

Following that, the US expanded the list of those who may apply for refugee visas to include current and past workers of US-based media organizations, assistance and development agencies, and other relief organizations that get US money.

Some nations, like Turkey, have slammed the US plan, which depends in part on Afghans being transferred to third countries while their applications are reviewed.

US authorities warned The Washington Post that Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, may fall within 90 days.

Despite the Taliban’s successes, NATO, the United States, and other nations that have sent soldiers to Afghanistan over the past two decades are still under pressure to give refuge to Afghans they have hired.

Denmark granted temporary refuge to around 45 Afghans it had hired on Thursday. Similar promises were anticipated from Sweden and Finland.

The United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany have all taken steps to transfer Afghan contractors, but campaigners claim that these efforts are insufficient.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of Austria has said that forceful deportations would not be stopped. However, the country’s Foreign Ministry has admitted that it would be impossible to continue without the help of Afghanistan and other allies.

According to Woollard, a judgment from the European Court of Human Rights influenced Austria’s decision to halt deportations. The court granted a temporary stay of deportation to one of the deportees on the Aug. 3 aircraft, asking the Austrian government whether it had examined if the change in the security situation in Afghanistan would impact their rights.

While nations may be compelled to stop returns, Woollard believes the rhetoric surrounding new

Ahmad, who came to Austria six years ago, said that he did not intend to file a fresh asylum application at this time. He’s worried it’ll be turned down. He said he would go into hiding if the court decided to deport him.

His family is from the minority Hazara, a Shiite Muslim group that long targeted persecution from the mainly Sunni Taliban. Although Ahmad fled to Iran as a child, he will still be deported to Afghanistan.

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