Reshad Jalali was nine years old when U.S.-backed forces ousted the Taliban from Kabul in 2001, and he recalls hearing Afghan singers on the radio for the first time, a relative’s joy at shaving his beard, and a general sense of optimism in the air. “We said we were done with the Taliban, and now another chapter in Afghan history begins,” he recalls.

After that initial high, however, he and his family experienced a string of disappointments in both botched Western nation-building and corrupt Afghan governments, and he and his family eventually fled to Europe in 2006. Now, Jalali faces his greatest disappointment: the Taliban’s return to the streets of his home country, while many on his adopted continent appear more concerned with the prospect of another refugee crisis than with the fate of the Afghan people.

“As an Afghan living in Europe, I am astounded by what I have heard,” says Jalali, who now lives in Brussels and works as a Policy Officer for the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, a non-governmental organization. “I was expecting the European Union. rather than focusing on the narrow topic of migration, to express solidarity with the people of Afghanistan.”

The European Union has a significant stake in Afghanistan’s past and future, given that the majority of EU member states are also NATO allies and have contributed €4 billion in development aid to the country. How its leaders respond to the prospect of increasing numbers of Afghan refugees will be a key test of how well the bloc has learned from the lessons of 2015, when the Syrian civil war prompted a migration of more than 1 million people into Europe.

So far, Europe’s reaction has been a mix of compassion for the plight of ordinary Afghans trapped under Taliban rule and fear for the domestic consequences. This was exemplified by French President Emmanuel Macron’s speech on Monday evening, in which he spoke of the need to “protect those who are most vulnerable” as well as “protect ourselves against large migratory flows.”

The tone was set earlier this month, when the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, and Greece wrote to the EU executive, urging them to continue deporting Afghans with rejected asylum claims, arguing that halting expulsions “sent the wrong signal.”

The letter’s insensitivity at a time when the Taliban were marching on Kabul sparked outrage, and some signatories backed down. However, it reflected the increasingly hostile policies in place since 2015, when Europe’s mishandling of the crisis resulted in a surge in support for far-right and nationalist parties.

As a result of this new security-driven approach, EU-backed missions have been accused of returning people to life-threatening situations in Libya and illegally pushing back boats that had reached Greek waters.

Afghans arriving in Europe bore the brunt of many of these harsher policies, with leaders arguing that fatigue with the “forever war” had set in and Afghans could be sent back without much outcry. Between 2015 and 2016, the number of people forcibly returned to a war zone by EU member states nearly tripled to nearly 10,000, and in some cases, those forcibly returned to Afghanistan were killed within months of their arrival.

Much of Europe is viewing the Taliban takeover through this lens, with heated debate over the possibility of another refugee crisis. Former Portuguese diplomat Bruno Macaes claimed that another refugee wave “now seems inevitable,” citing Afghan diplomats who told him that “nothing – not even tanks – can stop them.”

According to Camille Le Coz, a policy analyst with the migration think tank MPI Europe, there has been little evidence of such an influx thus far. She emphasizes the significant differences between the situations in Syria and Afghanistan, not the least of which is the much greater geographical distance a person must travel to reach Europe from the latter.

She also warns that scaremongering can play into the hands of populists and authoritarian governments eager to capitalize on Europe’s fear of refugees. The European Union recently asked Iraq to halt flights to Belarus, citing evidence that its dictatorial leader, Alexander Lukashenko, was flying Iraqis to his capital and then busing them to the Lithuanian border in retaliation for E.U. sanctions.