Afghans to swallow the bitter pill from Europe
|November 21st, 2016|
|by:||Shadi Khan Saif|
|tags:||Afghanistan, Europe, ISAF, refugee|
Reports emerged in the western press on the eve of the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan that the Afghan government has been compelled to accept back tens of thousands of its citizens not meeting the criteria for asylum.
Afghan leaders managed to secure pledges of some $15.5 billion at the Brussels Conference [04-05 October] to afloat the aid-addicted economy for at least the next four years. Though the deal for sending back the Afghan asylum seekers was not part of the agenda at Brussels, analysts believe it was sort of indirectly conveyed to Kabul as a condition for the aid.
According to the so called ‘secret deal’, more than 80,000 Afghans will need to be deported from Europe soon.
According to the The Telegraph, „the leak is revealed in a joint ’non-paper‘ discussion document, marked „EU Restricted“. The „non-paper“ was prepared by the European Commission and its foreign policy arm, the External Action Service. There has been no denial by the Afghan government that this paper was sent to the national ambassadors in March.
Hafiz Miakhail, spokesman for the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriates (MoRR), told fairplanet that the Afghan government has worked on a deal with the EU in this regard. “If at least three courts in the EU reject the appeal for asylum by the Afghan refugees, and there are no other grounds for their stay there, they should voluntarily return or would be deported”, he noted. Miakhail however, stressed that the deserving Afghans belonging to restive parts of the country, or meeting other requirements for asylum should be granted this right in the EU.
Afghans make up the second largest group of migrants arriving in Europe, with196,170 applying for asylum last year alone. The country is passing through arguably the most difficult times in decades as the rages of war has left some 263, 000 Afghans internally displaced since the beginning of 2016. To add to the misery, more 250, 000 Afghan refugees have returned home, mainly Pakistan due to mounting persecution.
Illuminating the situation on the ground in Afghanistan, Alexey Yusupov, country-director for the German non-government political foundation Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) told fairplanet a combination of reasons has to be considered to understand the dilemma.
“First, the economic crisis which unfolded as a result of the ISAF withdrawal and the continues failure of the National Unity Government (NUG) to show cohesion and ability to govern made many Afghans think that things will only get massively worse in the future”, he said. The FES country director added that the stream of refugees from Syria and their arrival in Europe created a false understanding of European migration politics among many and motivated people to go.
“Third, the security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated even more so that especially many young people faced a choice between internal escape to a different province, joining armed forces, militia or Taliban or leaving the country. The combination of those factors and the feeling that the West is receiving refugees with open arms made so many flee despite the dangers of the land route via Iran and Turkey and the perils of the sea crossing in the Aegean,” Alexey concluded.
The relative peace of the past decade or so, and the generous flow of foreign aid have brought many significant changes towards betterment in Afghanistan. Literacy rate has improved; child-birth mortality rate has fallen and a new educated middle class is emerging.
On top of all this, there is no respite in terrorist attacks, even in the country’s capital Kabul; often described as a safest city in Afghanistan. Over 50 people lost their lives in Kabul during the past one month to three major terrorist attacks. This has led to many more young Afghans risk their lives to make it to Europe.
Zalmay Pashton, President of the Afghan Community in Greece, told Fair Planet that there seems no stoppage in the flow of people from Afghanistan knocking at the doors of Europe.
“I do not have the exact figures but one thing is clear, more and more Afghans want to flee the country before the harsh winter,” he said. Pashton added that there has been an uptick in violence across Afghanistan. He said many young Afghans who have endured the trauma and misery along the treacherous route to Europe are afraid they might be sent back to cope with bloodshed in Afghanistan.
“I personally know a young man who was deported just recently and he lost his life in the restive Zabul province”, he recalled.
Exploring a solution to the Afghan dilemma, Alexey underlined that programs for support and reintegration of returnees are very important right now.
“The main challenge for Afghanistan is the socio-economic one; the war economy – which is also subsidized by the international donors – has to make space for a peace economy with agriculture, light manufacturing, transportation and services to grow. Otherwise the conflict will be perpetual. It has been said many times that Afghanistan are at the crossroads. Now it might be truer than ever”.