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Amnesty has written a letter to Ylva Johansson, the EU’s Commissioner for Home Affairs, recommending the Temporary Protection Directive should be implemented to facilitate the “safe and orderly arrival and protection in Europe” of Afghans at risk. The 20-year-old EU directive would enable the bloc to provide protection to a specific category of refugee — in this case, Afghans. Crucially, it would not require the full consent of all 27 member states, which has proved problematic over recent years when trying to agree on specific details.

On its website, the European Commission defines temporary protection as “an exceptional measure to provide immediate and temporary protection to displaced persons from non-EU countries and those unable to return to their country of origin.

“It applies when there is a risk that the standard asylum system is struggling to cope with demand stemming from a mass influx risking a negative impact on the processing of claims”.

In the letter to the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Amnesty International warned there is “grave concern over the human rights and humanitarian catastrophe that is unfolding in Afghanistan following the collapse of the Afghan government and takeover by the Taliban”.

The letter from Eve Geddie, Head of Office and Advocacy Director at Amnesty International – European Institutions Office, stated: “In the past, the Taliban has been responsible for systematic and widespread violations of human rights.

“A recent Amnesty International investigation documented the massacre by the Taliban of nine ethnic Hazara men after they took control of Ghazni province last month.

“The brutality of these killings is a reminder of the Taliban’s past record and proof that religious and ethnic minorities remain at particular risk.

“We have no reason to believe that a new Taliban government would change those practices.

“The risk of a catastrophic rollback of the rights of women and girls under the Taliban rule cannot be ignored, as early reports of restrictions on women’s activities already emerge.

“We are particularly concerned about the risk of persecution and targeted attacks on human rights defenders, women’s rights activists, journalists, media workers, civil society activists, academics, women leaders and individuals who have worked for international organisations and foreign countries.

“After the deadly attacks in Kabul, the evacuation operations initiated by various governments, including many European ones, are being wrapped up earlier than the scheduled deadline of August 31, set by the US for hand over to the Taliban, and it is becoming increasingly apparent that many are being left behind.”

Ahead of the extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs Council taking place later today (Tuesday), Amnesty International made calls in the letter for the European Commission to solve the escalating crisis.

One of these states: “Present a proposal to the Council for the activation of the Temporary Protection Directive with respect to groups of Afghans at risk, with a view to facilitating their safe and orderly arrival and protection in Europe in compliance with measures to ensure solidarity among EU countries.”

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This possibility of invoking the Temporary Protection Directive had also been floated by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell when he appeared before MEPs in the European Parliament last Thursday.

Mr Borrell suggested: “This might be the occasion to use it.”

But the possibility of the directive being invoked has received a lukewarm response from EU officials, who remain hugely sceptical.

They have warned the directive was floated during the Arab Spring uprisings 10 years ago and failed to gain enough support among EU member states.

One EU official told Politico: “We should work on it now.”

However, he warned: “But I’m afraid it is a very limited window of opportunity.”

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