Conflicts & War

Leaders praise EU solidarity at Afghan refugee center in Madrid

Madrid, Aug 21 (EFE).- The presidents of the European Commission and the European Council on Saturday visited a reception center at a Spanish air base outside Madrid for Afghans being evacuated from Kabul.

Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel joined Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez to the temporary center in Torrejón de Ardoz which can house up to 1,000 people.

“The facilities we have seen here today I believe (are) a clear symbol of how the European Union and Spain respond,” Sanchez said.

“This hub, organized to provide support and any help to our Afghan collaborators and refugees, represents the values and principles of the EU — unity and solidarity.”

He added: “Spain is proud to carry out this task, this responsibility of distribution. Spain is there in the good times, and the bad.”

Von der Leyen thanked Sanchez and the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, for “taking the initiative” in setting up the reception center for the EU’s Afghan colleagues and their families.

“In times of need, Spain has shown humanity, and Spain has proven a great sense of solidarity,” she said.

The Commission president also said the EU has not formally recognized the Taliban, the Islamist militant group which swept to power last week after toppling the Afghan government as foreign troops complete their withdrawal from the Himalayan nation after 20 years.

While she said there had been discussions with the Taliban, she warned that one billion euros in EU aid would be withheld unless the militants can ensure “respect for human rights, good treatment for minorities, and respect for the rights of women and girls, just to name a few.”

“Not a single euro can go to a regime that denies women and girls their full freedoms and rights to education and careers. We may hear the Taliban’s words, but we will measure them above all by their deeds and their actions,” Von der Leyen said. EFE


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