Austria’s Leader Says He Won’t Take Refugees Fleeing Afghanistan

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Austria’s government said it won’t accept asylum seekers fleeing the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan and will instead focus on assisting them locally.

“I am clearly against voluntarily accepting more people,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said, according to excerpts of an interview published by broadcaster Puls 24. “That won’t happen on my watch.”

The ruling People’s Party has taken a hard line on immigration amid international calls to help Afghans at risk of persecution after the U.S. troop withdrawal. European Union member states are working on plans to tackle a potential surge in asylum requests and avoid repeating the disorganized response to a previous wave in 2015.

Kurz said Austria had already made a disproportionately high contribution, with the more than 40,000 Afghans accepted in the past. The nation’s responsibility lies with helping improving security and women’s rights locally, he said. 

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