Getting Refugees Out of Afghanistan

Susan Martin
Date of Publication: 
September, 2021
Source Organization: 
Center for Migration Studies

The perilous and chaotic exodus of Afghans from Afghanistan after the fall of the government gripped the world in the summer of 2021. Susan Martin, Donald G. Herzberg Professor of International Migration Emerita at Georgetown University, suggests that the global response to the flight of Indochinese refugees in 1979 from Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries offers a model for responding to the Afghan crisis. She details how the Secretary-General of the United Nations, strongly backed by the United States, called an international conference in 1979 to address the crisis. This gathering resulted in numerous international commitments, including pledges to increase resettlement slots for refugees, Vietnam’s agreement to set up an orderly departure program, increases in military resources for rescuing refugees, and an increase in funding for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Accordingly, she makes several recommendations for the Afghan crisis, namely that the U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, backed by the Biden administration, should hold an international pledging conference concerning Afghan refugees at risk. Martin recommends that the United States make generous pledges of resettlement from within Afghanistan and neighboring countries of first asylum. Further, she recommends that the international community attempt to convince the Taliban to establish an Orderly Departure Program for Afghan refugees, incentivizing them by making it clear that only through their adherence to universal human rights standards will recognition of their government and access to humanitarian and development aid happen. (Erika Hernandez for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

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Martin, S. (2021, September). Getting Refugees Out of Afghanistan. Center for Migration Studies.