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Afghan deportees left to grapple with raging bloodshed

May 13, 2021
topic:Refugees and Asylum
tags:#Taliban, #regugees, #Afghanistan
by:Shadi Khan Saif
At a young age, Noor Mohammad braved the treacherous routes from Afghanistan to Europe with an unyielding hope for peace, but ended up being deported back to his country to grapple with the flared-up war amid the withdrawal of foreign troops.

Treacherous journey to Europe ends in deportation

17-year-old Noor Mohammad’s hometown in eastern Afghanistan’s Laghman province has been devastated by a fierce Taliban insurgency and the pro-Islamic State militancy. Even before completing high-school, the fear of being forcefully recruited by terrorists, coupled with crippling poverty, compelled him to prepare for the tough journey to the west.

“We had no money to pay to the human smugglers, but my father, who is a retired police officer, gathered many little bits of loans from all friends and relative he knew to finally collect up to 6,000 US dollars,” the young boy began narrating his ordeal, pausing for moments of deep thoughts.

Picking from his bitter memories of the route via Iran and Turkey to Europe, Noor said he saw many of his companions dying of hunger, thirst and physical torture by border guards. “I dodged death many times and was feeling lucky to finally enter Germany,” he said with a despondent smile. “But, they deported me,” he told FairPlanet.

With US President Joe Biden setting September 2021 as the final departure date for forces from Afghanistan, fears of a spike in terrorist attacks and spread of insurgency to the remaining safer corners of the country have increased among Afghans. Amid all this, Afghan migrants continue to be deported from both Asian and western countries back to war-ravaged Afghanistan.

In monthly charter flights of deportees, Germany alone has deported close to 1,000 Afghans since 2016 back to the country they fled from. In fact, one such flight set to take more individuals like Noor from Berlin to Kabul was canceled by the German government at last moment. 

The German state broadcaster DW quoted a spokeswoman for Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, saying the "return measure" had been postponed due to "logistical" problems.

German officials have told the dpa news agency that Berlin would not scrap its policy of allowing deportations to Afghanistan.

Aghnanistan deemed too dangerous for anyone but afghans

The grim paradox here, as many see it, is that western countries are advising their citizens to leave Afghanistan for security reasons, and then deny the Afghan migrants their right of asylum by assuming the situation is not that bad in Afghanistan. 

The US State Department issued a new travel advisory for Afghanistan that urged all Americans who wish to depart the country to do so immediately. The agency raised the travel advisory to Level 4 - Do Not Travel - citing coronavirus, crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping and armed conflict. "U.S. citizens wishing to depart Afghanistan should leave as soon as possible on available commercial flights," said the department.

It also ordered government employees to depart the US Embassy Kabul "whose functions can be performed elsewhere."

Noor’s story is not different from those of thousands of other Afghans who continue to risk their lives by escaping Afghanistan with the little means they have through irregular and deadly routes.

Flying easily without much of a fuss out of Afghanistan is not an option for regular migrants either, as the German Embassy’s visa section, for instance, has been closed in Kabul since May 2017. A massive truck bombing in front of the German diplomatic mission exactly four years ago on 31 May killed at least 90 people and wounded more than 400 others.

A Kabul University graduate, Mohammad Iqbal has tried his luck for higher-education abroad many times, but so failed to get a visa. “I guess there is a systematic discrimination against Afghans. I have mentioned in my applications that I am ready to pay for my expenses and study, and do not need a scholarship, but still my visa applications are turned down without a reason presented,” he told the FairPlanet.

Withdrawal of foreign troops inspires new waves of violence

As the exit date for foreign troops nears, an array of Afghan citizens who worked as contractors, translators and in many other capacities with the foreigners have begun to feel uneasy about their future.

Not wishing to mention his real name in the report, KS has been working at one of the European diplomatic missions for nearly three years. Hailing from restive central Ghazni province, he said a likely return to power by the Taliban would literally mean ‘an end’ to his life. “Even if they [the insurgents] spare me, I would not be able to live and work with the freedom and peace of mind. I, and many more like me, see [our] survival only in exit to a peaceful country”, he said in relatively fluent English.

As per the less educated working class, many among them have already been trying their luck by sneaking out to other countries in the region, but tough border controls amid the coronavirus pandemic has made that quite difficult. 

A spokesman for the ministry for refugees and returnees, Abdul Basit Ansari, told FairPlanet that more than 10,000 people had been voluntarily and forcefully returned from Iran in the past two months alone. And, as per the International Organization for Migration (IOM), about 200,000 Afghan refugees have returned from Iran, Pakistan and European countries since the beginning of this year. 

And, to have a sense of the raging violence, Afghanistan’s leading Tolo News has estimated that on a given day, up to 49 soldiers and civilians are getting killed in Taliban attacks in Afghanistan following the announcement of the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country by the US.

Image: EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid

Article written by:
Shadi Khan Saif
Author, Contributing Editor
Embed from Getty Images
Afghans protesting against deportations hold up photos of the bombing in Kabul outside the Afghan Embassy on May 31, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.
© Sean Gallup
Embed from Getty Images
Residents stand amid the debris of a damaged house after a car bomb blast in Herat on March 13, 2021. On a given day, up to 49 soldiers and civilians are getting killed in Taliban attacks in Afghanistan following the announcement of the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country by the US.
© Hoshang Hashimi
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