Rome: Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi warned on Wednesday that Europe could face a large number of immigrants from Afghanistan following the withdrawal of US and NATO troops.
“It is foreseeable that the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan will lead to an increase in immigrants from that country. The number is still unknown, but we all know it will be very large,” he said.
Draghi said: “That’s why we need more strength to solve this problem together,” he called on the EU to unite before the summit in Brussels from June 24 to 25.
He urged the EU to pay attention to “containing” and repatriating illegal immigrants, as well as legal immigration and assistance to immigrants’ countries of origin.
He criticised the bloc for neglecting the issue of migration, saying that it has not formally been on the agenda of EU summits for the past three years.
Turning to Italy — one of the EU countries most exposed to the inflow of migrants — Draghi called for greater national efforts on integration.
“If we do not integrate these people in Italian society, we first of all harm ourselves… if we do not integrate them, we produce potential enemies,” he said.
US and NATO troops are pulling out of Afghanistan after 20 years of war, while the Taliban has been making huge territorial gains.
Peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban have stalled, fuelling fears that the country may slide into civil war once foreign troops are gone.
Afghans already make up a sizeable share of EU asylum seekers, with 44,190 first-time applications last year, out of a total of 416,600, according to Eurostat, the EU’s statistics agency.