Migration Policy & The Afghan Refugee Crisis

The world stood stunned when the Taliban rapidly took over Afghanistan and promised to establish a conservative Islamic emirate. United States and other developed countries that led the rebuilding of Afghanistan evacuated officials who helped them to achieve their respective missions in the country. In spite of this, several people were left behind and fears that the Taliban would treat them cruelly exist.

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Also, there is a fear that the Taliban will revert to a strict governance system that would lead to massive human rights abuses. This includes cruel and unusual punishments that are not consistent with international human right laws.

As it stands now, any Afghan outside the country qualifies to seek asylum due to the lack of a settled and definite government in their homeland.

Afghan Refugees in Muslim Countries

First of all, there is pressure on Muslim countries to accept Afghan refugees. This is because the vast majority of Afghans are Muslims and it is expected that the average Afghan will seek asylum in a country where they can get the same cultural and religious environment to practice their faith.

However, the economic structures and socio-political systems of most Muslim countries in the Middle East and elsewhere does not promise the kind of luxury an Afghan refugee in the US or Europe might gain. Most Muslim countries do not promise the same opportunities and economic advancement possibilities as the European Union or North America. Therefore, Afghan refugees might want to move overseas into faraway lands.

Then, there is the question of Islamic countries struggling with huge refugee populations. The recent spate of violence in Syria, Yemen, Libya and others mean that most countries in the Middle East and North Africa are stretched to their limits in the quest for hosting and managing refugees. Therefore it is apparent that most of these countries will be adamant to accept more Afghan refugees.

The GCC countries are sensitive to demographic changes since most of these countries are already sparsely populated. This means admitting more Afghan refugees will upset the ethnic and population balance and this explains why these countries maintain a cautious approach to receiving refugees from other Muslim countries.

Furthermore, there is a level of hostility towards Afghan refugees because some countries assert that the Afghan situation was caused by the United States’ unilateral invasion of Afghanistan. Almost every Muslim country protested the US-led invasion of Afghanistan and are therefore justified in demanding that Afghan refugees follow the evacuated American diplomats to the safety of the United States.

Iran and the Russia-China Axis

A significant Afghan refugee population consolidates Iran’s role as a leading Islamic nation. This is because a link to Afghanistan favors Iran and they can use a future Taliban government as an outlet to avoid sanctions. Therefore, welcoming Afghan refugees will be a positive thing to Iran.

Iran can also gain more sympathy from China and Russia who are quite friendly with them but do not have a significant history of hosting refugees from Islamic countries. Thus, Iran could consolidate their international stature by opening their doors to Afghan refugees.

Pakistan, the Obvious Host

The spillover of Afghan refugees to Pakistan is almost inevitable. Pakistan is stretched to its limit economically and this will invariably create some international pressure that will have to be resolved.

It appears the international community would have to increase its aid to Pakistan who are geographically positioned to host Afghan refugees. The pressure on Pakistan is already large. As such, international community agencies like the UNHCR will have to increase its logistical scope in Pakistan which is situated close to some of Afghanistan’s largest population centers.


They have a strong fear of Afghans undermining their own local security. Therefore, they are likely to be hostile and make rigid laws against Afghan refugees.

United States

Joe Biden is more flexible with refugees and migration. He has already shown signs that he is willing to accept Afghan refugees by creating a pathway to integrate them into the United States. Thus, it is apparent that more family members of evacuated former Afghan government officials are likely to gain the right to enter the United States later.

On the other hand, the Republicans and Donald Trump in particular have started making the Afghan refugee crisis a political issue. The Democrats are accused of dumping undocumented people and refugees into the United States. This is likely to become a major issue in US elections from 2022 to 2024.


It is apparent that Germany made serious cuts in the number of Afghans evacuated to Germany. This shows that a mass admission of Afghan refugees will be a major political issue that the ruling government of Germany seeks to avoid.


The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has shown most nations that the country is not ready for a western-type liberal democracy. Therefore, most major nations are willing to make concessions to have a robust government function in Afghanistan, even if it is led by the Taliban.

In line with this, most countries are on the lookout and are watching what happens in Afghanistan. If the new government can protect the peace of the country and maintain some features of a legitimate state, it seems most European countries will support the new Taliban regime.

This means policies for Afghan refugees will be tied to the level of stability the Taliban regime will institute across the country.

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