KABUL, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Afghan Minister for Refugees and Repatriation Affairs Sayed Hussain Alemi Balkhi has appealed to European countries not to expel Afghan asylum seekers and instead deal with them in accordance with the situation in Afghanistan and the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that Kabul has signed with them.
"We have bilateral MoUs with some of the European countries under which the host country agrees not to expel Afghan asylum seekers forcibly and instead provides temporary residence permit until his or her case is processed," Balkhi told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.
Balkhi made the remarks amid the exodus of thousands of Afghans, including educated people and university graduates, to European countries to seek better jobs and escape the lack of security and poverty in their homeland.
Accordfing to Balkhi, this year alone some 146,000 Afghans have applied for asylum in European countries and of this number, some 80,000 are in Germany.
Among these Afghan asylum seekers are Afghan refugees who used to live in central Asian countries, Russia and Iran for years and recently left for Europe to resettle there permanently, hoping for a better future for them and their families, Balkhi said.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees, that include Afghans, have travelled to Europe through risky sea routes from Turkey or Libya or land routes through the former Balkan states just to enter Europe.
Lately, however, some European countries have closed their borders to migrants and some have even announced to deport asylum seekers back to their countries of origin.
The recent coordinated terror attacks in Paris reportedly participated in by some Islamic militants who entered Europe along with migrants from Syria has compounded the problem of refugees seeking better life in Europe.
Balkhi said among the European countries that signed a MOU with Afghanistan, only Germany had agreed not to expel Afghan asylum seekers.
He said the Afghan government is grateful to Germany for its humanitarian gesture.
In the conflict-ridden Afghanistan, 36 percent of its some 30 million population lives under the poverty level and nearly 5 million others have been living as refugees in the neighboring states of Pakistan and Iran for years. Many of them prefer not to return to their home country but chose to settle abroad, particularly in Europe.
Balkhi said that based on their statistics more than 2.5 million registered and unregistered Afghan refugees are presently living in Pakistan and more than 2 million others in Iran.