Afghan asy­lum seek­ers sent home fear de­por­ta­tions will add to chaos

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

LON­DON:

Afghan asy­lum seek­ers sent back home this week un­der a deal ne­go­ti­ated with the Euro­pean Union fear their forced de­por­ta­tions will prompt other mi­grants to try to by­pass the rules, fu­elling chaos in the sys­tem.

The process be­gan this week of de­port­ing failed Afghan asy­lum seek­ers fol­low­ing an agree­ment be­tween the Euro­pean Union and Afghanistan in Oc­to­ber with Nor­way de­port­ing about 13, Sweden about nine and Ger­many about 34 asy­lum seek­ers. Afghans made up a fifth of all mi­grants en­ter­ing Europe last year, the sec­ond big­gest group af­ter Syr­i­ans.

The de­por­ta­tion from Ger­many, where more than a mil­lion mi­grants from the Mid­dle East, Africa and else­where have ar­rived this year, sparked a large demon­stra­tion at Frank­furt air­port on Wed­nes­day with hun­dreds of Afghans chant­ing “Stop De­por­ta­tion”.

“The process is to­tally un­fair and un­just. Some of the de­por­tees went to so­cial wel­fare de­part­ment to ex­tend their pa­pers, but they were ar­rested there,” said Rashed Hus­seini, an Afghan asy­lum seeker who par­tic­i­pated in the demon­stra­tion. “We left Afghanistan be­cause of in­se­cu­rity and lack of rule of law. But the fact that peo­ple are de­tained by de­cep­tion and are be­ing de­ported against their will is also un­law­ful,” he told the Thom­son Reuters Foun­da­tion by phone.

Ger­many has seen protests against the planned de­por­ta­tions in re­cent weeks as crit­ics say much of Afghanistan is not safe and re­turnees might face reprisals with much of the coun­try still un­der threat from the Tale­ban, Al-Qaeda and Is­lamic State.

Afghanistan’s West­ern-backed gov­ern­ment is bat­tling mil­i­tants who have stepped up at­tacks since the with­drawal of most for­eign troops in 2014. The group de­por­ta­tion has cre­ated wor­ries among other Afghan asy­lum seek­ers in Ger­many who fear they will be ar­rested if they went to ex­tend their pa­pers. “I will not go to ex­tend my pa­pers again un­less I have le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive ac­com­pa­ny­ing me,” said Mur­taza, a par­tic­i­pant in the demon­stra­tion, who would only give his first name while speak­ing to the Thom­son Reuters Foun­da­tion by phone.

“It is to­tally un­fair on Afghan asy­lum seek­ers to be de­ported sim­ply be­cause the Euro­pean Union paid some money to our gov­ern­ment.”

Ger­man In­te­rior Min­is­ter Thomas de Maiziere said only peo­ple who can prove they are refugees flee­ing per­se­cu­tion, war or vi­o­lence are eli­gi­ble for asy­lum. He added that one-third of those de­ported were crim­i­nals con­victed of of­fences, from rob­bery and drugs crimes to rape and homi­cide. Of the 50 men due on the plane, 16 had dis­ap­peared.

The Afghan Min­istry of Refugees has said it will help re­turnees get back to their homes, with a spokesman adding that about 10,000 Afghans had re­turned from Europe this year. On Tues­day this week, Nor­way and Sweden de­ported groups of failed Afghani asy­lum seek­ers to Kabul. Mosavi, a re­turnee from Nor­way, told me­dia at Kabul Air­port that his fam­ily is in Nor­way but he was de­ported force­fully. “My wife and chil­dren should be there and I must be here with my hands tied? They gave me 2,000 Afghani ($30) and tell me wel­come. Why?” he said in a phone in­ter­view. The de­ci­sion to de­port asy­lum seek­ers in groups has added to the ten­sion and un­cer­tainty of those whose asy­lum claims have been re­fused and those who have not yet had asy­lum in­ter­views.

Mo­ham­mad Da­wood Ni­azi, an Afghan asy­lum seeker from north­ern Afghanistan liv­ing in Sweden, is wor­ried this de­ci­sion might prompt more asy­lum seek­ers not to co­op­er­ate with the sys­tem, cre­at­ing more chaos in an al­ready back­logged process.

Ar­riv­ing in Sweden more than one year ago, he was fin­ger­printed and sent to a camp in the north where he was given ac­com­mo­da­tion, food and 700 Swedish crown ($75) monthly. “Noth­ing has hap­pened in re­gard to my im­mi­gra­tion mat­ter in this one year,” Ni­azi told the Thom­son Reuters Foun­da­tion in a tele­phone in­ter­view, adding he had no idea when he would be in­ter­viewed.

Sweden was once Europe’s most wel­com­ing state for refugees and mi­grants, but since late 2015 it has made a sharp U-turn. Fig­ures in Oc­to­ber showed that so far this year, Sweden had re­jected four of five Afghans’ ap­pli­ca­tions for asy­lum. In 2014, 60 per­cent were ap­proved.

Ni­azi said the un­cer­tainty about the fu­ture along with the wor­ries of his wife and three chil­dren left be­hind in Afghanistan has caused him to suf­fer se­vere de­pres­sion. — Reuters

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