OSCE - Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe

11/09/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/09/2021 11:19

Afghanistan and the new border security landscape in focus of Central Asian Border Management Initiative 2021

Recent developments in Afghanistan and related transnational threats in the Central Asian region were the focus of the 16th Central Asia Border Management Initiative (CABMI) Conference held on 8 and 9 November in Vienna.

The Border Security and Management Unit of the OSCE Transnational Threats Department with the support of Germany, Austria and the OSCE Field Missions in Central Asia organized the conference.

Alena Kupchyna, Co-ordinator of OSCE Activities to Address Transnational Threats, Susanne Fries-Gaier, Director for Humanitarian Assistance, German Federal Foreign Office and Franziska Kandolf, Deputy Director-General on Aliens Issues, Austrian Ministry of Interior, delivered opening remarks.

"The security and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan threatens the safety and stability in the Central Asian region. There are concerns about the possibility of the conflict spill-over into the region, fuelling cross-border threats, including transnational crime, the export of radicalization or the illicit trafficking of weapons or drugs," said Alena Kupchyna, Co-ordinator of OSCE Activities to Address Transnational Threats. "With these evolving border security challenges confronting the Central Asian region, this CABMI Conference is arguably the most important one of all such meetings to date," said Kupchyna.

"Effective border management is a key element in ensuring free and secure legal cross-border movements while mitigating the threat of terrorism and organized crime," emphasized Susanne Fries-Gaier, Director for Humanitarian Assistance, German Federal Foreign Office. "The partnership and co-operation with the Central Asian participating States in the region, the OSCE and other international organizations will contribute significantly to making border crossing safer and monitoring border areas," said Fries-Gaier.

"It is in our joint interest to fight organized crime, extremism and terrorism in the Central Asian region," said Franziska Kandolf, Deputy Director General on Aliens Issues of Austrian Ministry of Interior. "It is therefore crucial to have the OSCE Central Asian participating States as trusted partners and friends to achieve stability and security in the region."

Representatives from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, attended the conference in person and online. They discussed the emerging challenges in border security and management associated with the new security landscape in the region; following the developments in Afghanistan.

Possible responses, in a human rights compliant and gender sensitive way, to the anticipated large-scale refugee flows coming from Afghanistan and the possible increase in trafficking in human beings were discussed with experts from UNHCR, ODIHR and the OSCE Office of the Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings.

Representatives from the Border Management Programme in Central Asia (BOMCA 10), the German Federal Police, the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), INTERPOL and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Office for Central Asia provided overview on existing and explored possible new initiatives on effective border control in response to the evolving security situation in and around Afghanistan.