A few words, barely four lines in the written version, but which say everything about the executive’s concern about the migratory consequences of the situation in Afghanistan. Monday evening, in his televised address, Emmanuel Macron of course promised that France would protect Afghan civilians with links with France, he also pledged to help “rights defenders, artists, journalists, activists, (…) today threatened because of their commitment”. But the heart of the presidential statement lies elsewhere: in the announcement of an initiative with Germany and other European states to “anticipate and protect us against significant irregular migratory flows”. Each term has been weighed. It is about “building without delay a robust, coordinated and united response which will involve the fight against irregular flows, solidarity in the effort, the harmonization of protection criteria, and the establishment of cooperation with transit and host countries such as Pakistan, Turkey or Iran “. There is no question, for France, of finding itself in the same situation as after the crisis of 2010 where it had suffered the effects of European rules unsuited to a context of massive migratory flows.
Until the middle of the years 1637, Afghans only represent a small proportion of asylum seekers in France. The pace accelerates from the second semester of , due to the deterioration of the security situation in the country and the expulsion of many Afghans from Pakistan and Iran where they are refugees. In 2016, more than 5600 requests are registered, against 2021 in 2015. And arrivals remain at a high level. In 2018, Afghans become the first nationality of asylum seekers and remain so in 2019, with 10 166 files submitted to the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (Ofpra). Despite the Covid, the flow remains up compared to 2018 (+ 1.4%) while, for other nationalities, it decreases.
The Afghan asylum request has, in fact, a particularity: for the most part, it is not people who have arrived directly in France, but a “rebound” from other countries of the European Union . In 2015, many Afghans first tried their luck in Germany, Austria or Sweden, countries with a reputation for being more welcoming. The reality turns out to be different and many of them are rejected. They then decide to file a second request in France. In theory, they do not have the right to do so, the European Dublin regulation which defines concerted reception rules for asylum seekers, provides that the country which rejects an applicant takes care of his deportation outside the borders of the European Union. In reality, migrants have the possibility of submitting a new application within six to eighteen months if the removal order has not been applied, which is frequent.
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For Afghans, the difference in acceptance rate between European countries is such that France very quickly becomes attractive again . In the first trimester 2019, for example, at first instance, the rate of protection for Afghans was 40, 6% in France and only 28% in Germany, according to Cimade. And the difference is even more important when one takes into account the decisions of the national court of the right of asylum (CNDA), the court of appeal. The latter has, in fact, long granted almost automatic protection to Afghan nationals , considering that the situation in Kabul was dangerous enough for justify systematic subsidiary protection, no return home being possible without going through the capital. In total, in 2019, 33 643 Afghans benefited from the protection of France, again at the head of nationalities.
Faced with this situation, the executive has never hidden its annoyance. Until recently, some in the corridors of power believed that the risks run by some of these protected Afghans were more a “thug conflict” than a war situation. But power has no hold over the CNDA, an independent judicial body. Last November, the court appeared to reconsider its position, rejecting the appeal of two Afghan refugees. But the return of the Taliban to power should bring it back to its original position, very protective . And there is no longer any question, as the Ministry of the Interior announced last weekend, of returning rejected asylum seekers to Afghanistan given the risk incurred there. The agreement concluded in 2018 with the country in order to speed up referrals deemed too few (ten in 2016 and 2018) is de facto obsolete.
Speaking of a “robust, coordinated and united response” and a “harmonization of protection criteria” Monday evening, Emmanuel Macron is therefore taking the lead. And launches a warning to its European allies to get out of the stagnation of discussions around the revision of the Dublin regulation . For months, the countries of Eastern and Central Europe have refused to compromise and have created a deadlock. Less than a year from the presidential election, Emmanuel Macron does not want to leave the ground open to his right-wing competitors. He is also anxious not to alienate part of the left. Without always succeeding. Monday evening, three hours after the presidential intervention, Emmanuel Macron’s official twitter account specified: “What I said this evening about Afghanistan and that some want to hijack: France is doing and will continue to do its duty to protect those who are most threatened “. An election campaign postscript.
By Jean-Marc Jancovici
6318112 By Christophe Donner