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French mayors offer to take in Afghan refugees as 200 evacuated from Kabul overnight

France said on Wednesday it had evacuated almost 200 Afghan nationals from Kabul overnight as it steps up airlifts out of the Afghan capital following the Taliban takeover.

French mayors offer to take in Afghan refugees as 200 evacuated from Kabul overnight
People wait to board French military transport at Kabul airport. Photo: STR/AFP

The French military is taking people out of Kabul on military planes to Abu Dhabi, from where they are to be flown on passenger aircraft to Paris. A first contingent of 41 French and foreign nationals arrived in France on Monday.

Amid the chaos of the fall of Kabul, French embassy staff moved to the airport where they continues to process visas for Afghans under threat from the Taliban.

And on Tuesday, dozens of mayors from across France offered to welcome refugees, saying “we have the capacity to welcome with dignity”.

“Nearly 200 Afghans who worked for France or who are under threat have just been evacuated from Kabul, as well as French and foreign nationals,” President Emmanuel Macron said in a tweet on Wednesday, adding that the operations would continue.

The foreign ministry said 216 people were on board the flight, including 25 French, 184 Afghans “from civil society in need of protection” as well as seven other foreign nationals.

It said that this operation meant that most people – both of French and Afghan nationality – who had taken refuge at the French embassy in Kabul, had now been evacuated. The French embassy is now working out of the airport.

The mayor of Besançon, Anne Vignot of the Green party, wrote: “I respond to France’s duty of humanity and announce that my city of Besançon is ready to welcome Afghans who seek refuge in France. We have the capacity to welcome with dignity.”

The Green mayor of Strasbourg, Jeanne Barseghian, added that her city “in its long tradition as a hospitable city, is ready to welcome Afghans who seek refuge in France” while the Socialist Olivier Bianchi added: “Clermont-Ferrand will be at the meeting place to welcome those who are threatened in their freedom. We must live up to our values.”

Macron in a speech on Monday night said France was ready to help activists, artists and journalists who risk being targeted because of their work.

“We will help them as it is the honour of France to be side-by-side with those who share our values,” he said. Addressing fears that the Taliban will restrict the rights of women, he added: “Afghan women have the right to live in freedom and dignity.”

“We will say very clearly to those who opt for war, obscurantism and blind violence that they have chosen isolation,” he said.

But he stirred controversy with other parts of his speech, which called on EU leaders to work together on a response that was “robust, coordinated and united” to prevent irregular migration by harmonising criteria and showing European solidarity.

“We must anticipate and protect ourselves against significant irregular migratory flows that would endanger the migrants and risk encouraging trafficking of all kinds,” he said.

France in July stopped deporting people to Afghanistan because of the security situation.

Member comments

  1. I sincerely hope this government and others are able to separate out the terrorists from among the legitimate refugees. We don’t seem to even be trying to do this here in the USA.

  2. I find it strange that these Mayors are eager to house Afghan refugees yet seem to show no interest whatsoever in the existing thousands of migrants living rough in the Pas-de-Calais who risk death crossing the Channel to you know where.

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HEALTH

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

After the seismic decision of the US Supreme Court on Friday, French MPs are calling for the right to abortion in France to be protected by the constitution.

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

Lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party are to propose a parliamentary bill on Saturday that would enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution. 

The move comes after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision on Friday.

“In France we guarantee and advance the rights of women. We protect them,” said Aurore Bergé – the head of Renaissance in the Assemblée nationale and one of the key sponsors of the bill. 

Another co-sponsor, Marie-Pierre Rixain tweeted: “What happens in elsewhere cannot happen in France. We must protect the right to abortion for future generations. 

In 2018 and 2019, Emmanuel Macron’s party – which back then was known as La République en Marche – refused to back bills proposed by left-wing party, La France Insoumise, to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. 

In a Saturday interview with France Inter, Bergé suggested that the success of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National during parliamentary elections earlier this month had created a sense of newfound urgency. 

She described the far-right MPs as “fierce opponents of women’s access to abortion” and said it was important “to take no risk” in securing it. 

READ MORE France’s Macron condemns US abortion ruling

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has come out in support of the bill. 

The left-wing opposition block, NUPES, also backs it and had planned to propose an identical piece legislation of its own on Monday. 

Macron is seeking parliamentary allies to pass reforms after his formation lost its majority in legislative elections earlier this month.

The legal timeframe to terminate a pregnancy in France was extended from 12 to 14 weeks in the last legislature.

Changing the constitution requires the National Assembly and Senate to adopt the same text, then a three-fifths majority of parliament sitting in congress. The other option is a referendum.

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