In Europe, some countries are more hesitant. The Swiss government has said that it will not accept large groups of refugees from Afghanistan and Austria will not take in any Afghan refugees.
Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, the president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), has said that he is “ashamed” of some European countries’ responses to the situation in Afghanistan.
“We had given hope to this people and now we have left them in Dante’s Inferno. And then I feel shame. Shame on Europe and on the West. We talk so much about values. But where are our values in Afghanistan now?” Hollerich said, according to the Italian news agency SIR.
The cardinal urged EU countries to “act according to your conscience.”
The Taliban previously controlled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001. During that time, a strict interpretation of Islamic law was imposed and girls were not permitted to go to school.
Human rights advocates have expressed concern that, with the Taliban regaining control of Afghanistan and changing the country’s name to the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” Sharia law will likely be imposed stringently.
Under Sharia, including in Afghanistan prior to the Taliban takeover, apostasy from Islam is punishable by death.
At the emergency meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council, Nasir Ahmad Andisha, Afghanistan’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, said that serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses had already been documented in the country.
“Violations are already taking place as we speak,” he said.
Another speaker at the special session made an appeal for Christians and other religious minorities whose lives are threatened by the Taliban.
Giorgio Mazzoli, a legal officer representing the Christian group ADF International at the U.N., said that he wished to call the council’s attention to “the dire plight of religious minority communities in Afghanistan.”
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He said that religious minorities in Afghanistan had “already been living in a hostile legal and social environment for decades and are now at extreme risk of being targeted with deadly violence.”
“Among them are an estimated 10,000 Christians, many of whom ‘guilty’ of converting from Islam -- a crime punishable by death under Sharia law,” he said.
“As disturbing accounts of killings, harassment, and intimidation against them are rapidly emerging, we urge states and the international community to give utmost attention to these persecuted minorities and guarantee the conditions for their prompt and safe exit from the country, irrespective of whether they have valid travel documents.”
Mazzoli also called on governments to temporarily halt deportations to Afghanistan and reconsider rejected asylum applications from Afghans who fear “persecution because of their faith or beliefs.”
“The harrowing prospects for freedom, democracy, and the rule of law, compounded by a deepening humanitarian crisis, are forcing thousands of Afghan men, women, and children into displacement within the country, and compelling many more to seek escape from persecution and oppression,” he said.
“The unfolding situation on the ground requires an immediate, robust and coordinated response from the international community, whereby respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is considered as an absolute prerequisite for a credible peace and reconciliation process.”