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The flag of France waiving in Paris

French mayors quick to take a stance on the situation in Afghanistan

French mayors quick to take a stance on the situation in Afghanistan

The tragic events news were met with mixed feelings

Last weekend’s developments in Afghanistan shocked the international community. Following the withdrawal of the American troops, the Taliban forces rapidly advanced across the country with the culmination being the seizure of the capital Kabul. This has led to massive and desperate attempts to flee the country on parts of many residents.

And while many national authorities, including US President Joe Biden, took long to react, French mayors were quick to take a stance and offer their support to the Afghani people and foreign nationals residing in Afghanistan. Let's have a look at their first reactions on social media.

Refugees welcome, but…

The situation in Afghanistan has been received with mixed feelings by the international community and the local leaders in France are no exception. And while the reactions among local representatives were unanimous in their pro-human rights attitude, there were different opinions on what should be done to face a rising threat.

The Mayor of Grenoble Éric Piolle (The Greens) and candidate for the Presidential elections in 2022, insisted that France should support escaping civilians and refugees, including by welcoming asylum seekers. In a press release, he further pointed out the need to draw red lines for the recognition of the new regime by France – to ensure that Afghanistan does not become a hotbed of terrorism and that human rights, and especially the rights of women to education and work, are guaranteed.

Similarly, the Mayor of Lille Martine Aubry (Socialist Party) appealed for donations in favour of the Afghani people who want to flee their country. She also declared on behalf of her city that they are open to welcome Afghanis seeking refuge on their territory. The Mayors of Marseille and Montpellier also shared their readiness to welcome fleeing Afghanis.

The Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo (Socialist Party) even appealed to support the resistance to the Taliban, organised around Ahmad Massoud, the son of General Ahmad Shah Massoud. For Le Monde, she said that the spirit of General Massoud, a leading military commander who fought against the Taliban in the 1990s and was assassinated in September 2001, should not fade away. Yesterday, Hidalgo went as far as suggesting that an alley in Paris be named after him.

On the other hand, some mayors were reluctant to offer unconditional refuge and were more vocal about the rising danger of terrorism and human trafficking and the need to prevent new migration waves to Europe. Recognising the responsibilities of the international community to protect the Afghani people, the Mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi (La France Audacieuse) sided with French President Emmanuel Macron on the matter.

The latter said that everything must be done by the international community to prevent a new migration wave and that Europe must not face alone the consequences of this conflict. Moreover, Estrosi asked the government to allow communities to use technological means to strengthen their security and to be able to exchange information effectively with the internal security services.

The rapid reaction of the mayors demonstrated once again that although they are deprived of powers when facing larger issues, such as immigration, trafficking and terrorism, they remain the most instrumental authority in conveying the concerns of their constituents.

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