More Afghans than Syrians have migrated to the European Union so far this year, according to the latest data from the EU border agency Frontex.
While the EU fears a new wave of asylum-seekers from Syria following Turkey’s attack this week on the northeastern region of the country, EU officials warned that the increasing number of Afghans poses a more immediate problem.
Since the beginning of 2019, nearly 17,000 Afghans have crossed the Aegean Sea to reach EU shores, Frontex reported.
Around half of the Afghan asylum-seekers had been living in Iran before attempting the crossing through Turkey into the EU, a senior EU official told Reuters, adding that, in many cases, Afghan migrants traveling to Europe were born in Iran.
They are leaving because “the US policy has significantly deteriorated the economic situation in Iran, ”the official said.
Iran’s economy has been squeezed since US President Donald Trump re-imposed sanctions last year to pressure Tehran to renegotiate a previous nuclear deal that the US had exited, the Reuters report said.
Facing hardship in neighboring Iran, Afghan workers are leaving to seek better ways to support families left behind in Afghanistan.