Afghan minister for refugees and repatriation warns against force returns

Prepared by: Liza Schuster and Abdul Ghafoor

Meeting with Mr Ghulam Mortaza Rassouli. He is Head of the Returnee Department in the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation.

present: Abdul Ghafoor, Liza Schuster, Zia Afif

Today in the morning we met Mr Rasooli in his office in the Ministry. He confirmed that a number of Afghans who had been sent back to Afghanistan in the last couple of weeks had not been accepted at the airport and were returned to the removing countries (Netherlands, Norway). Mr Rassouli said that they had not been allowed to disembark because their removal to Afghanistan was in breech of the current Memorandum of Understanding between the deporting countries and Afghanistan, because for example they were ill or woman without any support in Afghanistan.

Meeting with Minister for Refugees and repatriation Mr. Hossein Alami Balkhi.

Present: Eva Joly, Liza Schuster, Abdul Ghafoor and Zia Afif

In the after we met the Afghan minister for refugees and repatriation. The Minister received us in his office, and in response to a request for clarification about the current situation explained that he had sent a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be forwarded to those European countries with whom Afghanistan has MoUs enabling the forced removal of Afghan citizens to Afghanistan. The letter has not yet been sent to the partner countries: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is currently studying it and will discuss it with the Minister for Refugees and Repatriation before sending it to those countries.

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In this letter, Minister Balkhi explains that currently these countries are breeching the terms of the MoUs by deporting women and children, as well as those who cannot be returned to their provinces of origin. The minister repeated that it was not reasonable to expect Kabul to be able to receive all those who are forcibly returned (especially when they are from other provinces, and or have been born outside Afghanistan).

The Minister also made the point that the security situation in Afghanistan is not stable. He noted that the Foreign forces had handed over responsibility to the Afghan Security Forces, who are under enormous pressure dealing with the insurgents. He noted that there has been a significant deterioration in security in the past few years since these MoUs were signed, commenting that currently 80% of the country is insecure and unsafe.

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Minister Balkhi explained that he had asked all European governments and the Australian government to suspend deportations until the MoUs are renegotiated to reflect the current situation in Afghanistan, and assurances have been received that the new MoUs will be respected. He expressed concern for the immediate future as he is worried that the security situation may get worse before it gets better, in particular as the insurgents are likely to increase attacks substantially as the weather improves.

Before leaving, Mr Balkhi asked the four people present to please use their contacts to pressurize the Norwegian government to stop a charter flight due on 15th March and another from UK. He was particularly keen that Ms Joly take his message to the European Parliament.

To be clear: the Minister is of the opinion that no further deportations should take place until the MoUs have been revised and further decisions are made. The terms of the current MoUs will be strictly adhered to in the meantime – unaccompanied women and children, those with mental and physical problems, those who are particularly vulnerable and those who come from dangerous provinces will definitely not be allowed to disembark at Kabul airport.

Zia Afif: is a social worker from Kent in the UK who support Afghan asylum seekers.

Eva Joly: Is member of the European parliament and chair LIBE, committee for migrants rights in Europe

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Afghan minister for refugees and repatriation ” stop deportation to Afghanistan “

Interview with the minister conducted by: Mona Bentzen ” Journalist, artist and human rights activist from Norway” By: Abdul Ghafoor Newly elected minister for refugees and repatriation Mr. Hussain Alami Balkhi opposes all deportations to Afghanistan, especially women and children. In an audio interview the Minister urges all the deporting countries to halt deportations to Afghanistan. The ministers says; situation in Afghanistan was getting better after 2011 that is why MOUs were signed with some European countries including Norway to return those Afghans back to Afghanistan who are coming from safe provinces and they are able to return back to their own provinces. In the MOU it was clearly stated that those refugees who are coming from dangerous provinces won’t be returned. It was also agreed in the MOU that women and children won’t be returned back to Afghanistan. The situation in Afghanistan has changed now. Most of those who are being returned are coming from the provinces that are very dangerous and those who are being returned can’t go back to their provinces. That is why we oppose deportations from Norway and all other European countries to Afghanistan.   As a result we returned a woman and two of her children back to Norway last week. But, unfortunately later we heard that they were mistreated on the way back to Norway. Few days ago a family of 3 were deported to Afghanistan. Father, mother and a child. The family comes from Ghazni, one of the most dangerous provinces. I sent a letter to the Norwegian Embassy in Kabul explaining the situation of their province and requested them to return the family back to Norway. The family is currently staying and waiting in Jangalak ( Afghan returnee receiving center ) in Kabul until the Norwegian Embassy and the Norwegian government agrees to return them back to Norway. Considering the current situation of Afghanistan we sent a letter through the foreign ministry to all those countries with whom the MOUs were signed to revise the MOUs and do not return anyone back to Afghanistan. whether they are single or with family, until we make new agreements. They shouldn’t deport anyone because we can’t take care of them here.

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I have long term plans, but we have to wait until we can execute those plans. I am sure if there is opportunities in Afghanistan, the Afghans will return back to their country voluntarily. We have requested the deporting countries through letters not to deport anyone, because we can not take care of them here. Literally if they deport anyone back to Afghanistan we would not accept them in the airport and they will have to take them back. The reason behind doing this is that in the MOUs that were signed with receiving countries. It was clearly stated’ that only those will be returned back to Afghanistan whose provinces are safe and they are able to live in those provinces. But, most of the people who have been deported since now are from the provinces that are very dangerous to live in and it is impossible for the deportees to go and live in those provinces. I have already requested the Norwegian Embassy in Kabul to convince the authorities in Norway to return the family back who are currently living in Jangalak. Currently around 7 millions Afghans are living in exile. It is not sensible to say that all these people should be returned back to Kabul. Norwegian authorities argue that if the provinces that the deportees come from are dangerous. Then they can be returned back to Kabul, because Kabul is safe. There is no logic behind this kind of statements. It is not possible to re-settle 7 million returnees who are living in exile only in Kabul. Kabul does not have the capacity to take care of these many returnees. It will also be insensible to say that only those who have been returned from Norway should be re-settled in Kabul. It is clearly stated in the MOUs that they should be re-settled back to the provinces they have come from, not Kabul.

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Afghan refugees in Belgium are back on the streets

By: Abdul Ghafoor

picture courtesy: Armaan Zeedi

After many months of demonstrations at the end of last year, Afghan refugees in Belgium are once again on the streets. Hundreds of Afghans are living with an uncertain future in Belgium and are asking for their rights to remain in Belgium through peaceful demonstrations.

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Afghanistan opposes deportation of Afghan families and children from Norway

By: Abdul Ghafoor

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For some time Norway has been one of the leading deporting Scandinavian countries at the moment forcibly returning an average of  6 to 8 people every week in recent years. However this number has dramatically increased to 20 to 25 in a week in the past few months, including families.

Most worrying recent family deportations include woman without their husbands, or parents without all their children.

Murtaza and his family went to Norway in 2009 and their asylum was rejected in 2011. They also failed to get asylum after the appeal in the high court. However they did not give up and went to the court again. As a result the parents and under age children were granted asylum in 2014, but two of the elder sons who were over age were refused. Murtaza was deported alone back to Afghanistan 6 months ago to a city where he didn’t know anyone or didn’t have any network.

Now he is back in Greece and is trying to get back to his family.

Karim and Nabi were deported along with their mother even though the father wasn’t at home at the time of the police raid. It is many months since the mother and two children arrived in Kabul, but things are getting worse for them day by day. According to Afghan culture, the men take care of all the shopping and issues outside the home. But in this family’s case the mother has to do all the work outside and inside the home.

During a recent call, she was crying on the phone : ” the children are sick and the problems are increasing day by day. When I go to the shops man stare at me and wonder why I come to the shops and do not send a man for the shopping. There are hardly any woman seen in the bazaar here. If there are any they are with their Mahram (father, brother, husband or older son). They think badly about me. We are living in a bad situation here “.

However the Afghan authorities have now responded to the statement of the Norwegian Justice minister saying all the Afghan families and children with rejections to their asylum claims will be forcibly deported back to Afghanistan http://www.khaama.com/afghanistan-oppose-with-explusion-of-asylum-seekers-from-norway-9908. The Afghan foreign ministry has now strongly opposed with the decisions and has urged Norway to stop deportation of families and children back to Afghanistan

http://www.norwaynews.com/en/~view.php?73GyjH58ceil4672P89053gz5a84dQQ23544JbYe84rPNm88apM738

According to a source close to the Norwegian Embassy in Kabul. they are having hard time with deporting Afghan families back to Afghanistan now. This means that if the Afghan foreign ministry insist on refusing to accept the families the Norwegian government wishes to return, it can offer great hope for dozens of families who are living in the Norwegian camps in limbo. However, we urge the Afghan foreign ministry and authorities to insist that the Norwegian government take back the families who have already been deported and  who the Afghan government cannot protect.

( the names used above are not the original names )

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Sweden injects asylum seekers during deportations

Abdul Ghafoor

Radio Sweden has reported on returnees being injected before deportation to on their destination routes.  Reports suggest; most of the returnees who resists deportation are injected to stop resistance. This issue was raised on Radio Sweden program called Callibar.

After Radio Sweden highlighted the issue in one of the programs called Callibar. They say; now the issue of using force and injecting returnees is taken to the court to investigate this inhumane behavior by the Swedish border police.

I working with returnees agree with the issue raised in Radio Sweden . I have witnessed many cases when the returnees has reported to me about them being injected when they have tried to resist deportation. Mahil is one of the cases i reported about in the earlier stage of my work with returnees. He was returned back to Kabul on 19th May 2013 and was unconscious for the following two days when i was regularly visiting him.

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Link to the article https://kabulblogs.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/you-will-be-injected-and-sent-if-you-make-trouble/                                                                                                              In another case, a woman. mother of two was also injected when she wanted to resist the deportation. She was dragged to the plane as animals and sent back to Afghanistan on a charter flight with many other returnees.

Use of force, torture and injecting returnees is now being a common tool for the Swedish police while deporting returnees back to their countries. Therefor, Sweden as being one of the countries that leads human rights morals and values, must interrogate the inhumane act of abuse the Swedish border police and put an end to use of force, and force deportation to countries like Afghanistan or elsewhere.

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Hazara Genocide !

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By: Abdul Ghafoor

In September 2011, two buses on their journey to Taftan, the border between Iran and Pakistan were stopped by militants in Mastung area of Baluchistan, Pakistan. all the passengers were identified, taken out of bus and targeted. The victims belonged to Hazara minority, who are mostly following the Shite sect of Islam.

According to one of the eye witnesses, the extremists checked the ID cards of the passengers and asked all Hazaras to step out of the buses. They were then lined up and shot. As a result 26 people lost their lives and another 6 were injured.

This was not the only incidents Hazaras of Quetta Pakistan have faced in recent years. Extremist belonging to LEJ ( Lashkar – e – Jhangvi ) has carried out multiple attacks on Hazara minorities since 2009. The worst of the attacks took place in January and February 2013, which claimed 200 lives and wounded hundreds of others.

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Most of the attacks has taken place under the arms of the Pakistani establishment and agencies. After these many deadly attacks, yet there hasn’t been taken solid step to stop the extremists from carrying on the attacks and no culprit has been arrested or brought into justice.

Recently, the attacks on Hazaras of Afghanistan has also increased and has spread tensions among the Hazaras of Afghanistan. with turning the pages of history you will find how Hazaras were massacred during the Abdul Rahman Khan regime, and how they were targeted due to their ethnicity and religion. But, in the recent years Hazaras were hopeful for a better future in Afghanistan, and as a result thousands returned back to Afghanistan from neighboring countries Pakistan and Iran.

Most of the returnees have settled in capital Kabul, but yet they face numerous problems while traveling back to their home provinces. students, government employees, NGO employees are regularly targeted, taken out of vehicles and killed, without baring in mind what ethnicity or sect they belong to. But in some cases, only people belonging to Hazara minority are targeted.

Some of the recent incidents highlights and reminds of the LEJ style attacks on Hazaras in Quetta Pakistan. in these particular incidents innocent Hazaras were identified, taken out of vehicles and then targeted. On 30th June 2014. “Taliban in Police dress took Hazaras from District Gezab in the area of Qakhor-o-JarPiyaz in a mountain pass known as Chasma-Raig, tied their hands, chopped off their ears, noses, hands, then beheaded them, and threw their bodies from mountain top into the mountain pass.”  

This indicates Hazaras of Afghanistan are never safe, and the culprits, Taliban and extremist can target Hazaras anytime they want with out any obstacle from the weak Afghan Governments. which has just control over some of the provinces, but the rest are still in the hands of Taliban and they rule in those provinces.

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In the latest incident that took place on early morning of 25th July 2014. 17 innocent belonging to Hazara minority were identified, taken out of buses and then massacred. According to the eye witnesses; the attackers stopped two minibuses over night, separated Hazaras from other passengers, lined them up and shot them from back. The victims of the incident includes 3 women and one child.

The alarm of the recent incidents has waken up the activists to raise their voice against the target killings of Hazaras in Afghanistan, and it is time for all the Hazaras to wake up and stand for their rights, otherwise it won’t be late, when Hazaras mightn’t be able to travel to their provinces and get stuck in Kabul like the Hazaras in Quetta. This is the time to stand against the genocide and let the terrorists know, they couldn’t stop us in Quetta Pakistan and they won’t stop us in Afghanistan. On the other hand, this can be huge plan of the enemies of Afghanistan to demonstrate this kind of ethnicity based attacks and find a reason to aggravate the current situation of Afghanistan, and lead us back to a civil war.

 

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Corpses of Afghan families killed on border with Bulgaria and Turkey, arrived in Afghanistan

Corpses of two Afghan families who were Mysteriously killed on the border with Turkey and Bulgaria has arrived in Afghanistan. it is is not yet confirmed whether they were killed by the human smugglers or border protection forces, but according to the news circulating on social media and some of the friends of the victims, the victims were killed by the human smugglers, but the reason behind this brutal killing is unknown yet.

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10448816_704505269631059_3538320757027081923_npicture courtesy: Hazaras in Indonesia

previously written about the incident: https://kabulblogs.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/afghan-family-murdered-on-the-border-with-turkey-and-bulgaria/

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Sweden is deporting mentally ill people back to Afghanistan

By: Abdul Ghafoor

On 21st May Kabul airport was busy, and full with Afghans returning against their will from Sweden and UK. Around 70 were sent back from UK on a charter flight, and another 32 people from Sweden. Among the deportees from Sweden were 3 families with children and a married couple over 50.

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On Wednesday 24th, I met 4 of these returnees at an office in west Kabul. Because there are no exact addresses in Kabul, I couldn’t tell them how to find the office so we arranged to meet somewhere easy to find. I waited for them at a junction. When they arrived, three of them came directly to me and greeted me, but one of them went to greet the traffic officer on duty in that area instead of greeting me. We greeted each other and then walked to the office a few meters away, but Mustafa, who had greeted the traffic policeman and has the mental problems, was acting strangely. The other three were trying to take care of him to stop him harming somebody or do something wrong.

When we got to office, Talib Hossein, another of the deportees started telling me what had happened. According to him, extreme violence was used against them during the deportation. People were dragged along the ground, handcuffed; their legs were tied together and some were sedated to prevent them resisting until they arrived at Kabul. In the airport they were thrown out of the plane without knowing what will happen to them.

Many were sent with the only the clothes they were wearing, leaving all their stuff in the immigration center. Javid, one of the other deportees, who was detained for more than 6 months without any reason, pointed to Mustafa and said ‘I would also have been in the same condition as Mustafa if I had had to spend a few more days in the detention center. I was detained with dangerous criminals in prison, as if I was a criminal or have murdered somebody’.

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All during the discussion with the 3 other deportees, Mustafa, was laughing and talking with himself, was going out of the office and then coming back in. And if I asked him something about him, he would start to talk, but I could hardly understand a word he was saying. He was not at all coherent.

The 4th person, who prefers to remain anonymous, left his wife and child in Sweden. He said that; when he saw the children had cried and begged the police not to send them back. He was imagining his daughter instead of those children, and every time he talked about his daughter he would break down. Most of the children deported were born in Sweden and now they were being sent to a place they had never been.

Out of the 4 I met, none of them have a relative or friend in Kabul. They don’t know where they will go after they are thrown out of the IOM guest house, they don’t have penny in their pockets to survive. They are concerned about their future and were repeatedly asking me “is this fair? Is this humane? We begged them, not to send us back, but they did not listen to us’. The other 3 deportees were more concerned for Mustafa rather than themselves. The EU returns directive explicitly excludes those who are mentally ill from deportation! Who is going to take care of him? Where will he go once sent out of the guest house?

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Contact; azads11@yahoo.com

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Two Afghan families killed on the border with Turkey and Bulgaria ..

By: Abdul Ghafoor

News have been circulating of two Afghan Families murdered by the human smugglers on the border with Turkey and Bulgaria. The reasons behind this mass murder of innocent Afghan migrants are unknown yet.

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The cousin to one the families has written on his Facebook updates ;

‘It is sad to to hear about the sudden death of my cousin Nematullah and his Family and Safar and his family on the border with Turkey and Bulgaria by the hand of the smugglers, May the victims rest in peace and Allah give patience to the families of both the victims’ 

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The incident has happened at a time when dozens of Afghan men, women and children have been protesting in front of the UNHCR office in Ankara Turkey for the last one months, but yet they have not been heard. The protesters only demand was, that their cases must be considered by UNHCR and they should be a part of the resettlement. unfortunately even after one month of protest and huger strike, UNHCR and Afghan foreign ministry did not give any attention to the protesters, some families might have been compel to take those risky ways.

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Imagine what would be your condition living in a limbo for years and years and yet the result is NO ! then the only option you have is to take those risky ways to reach a safer destination.

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How is the situation of Afghan asylum seekers in Sweden?

1476663_257509141040233_173418138_nBy: Ahmad Zaki Khalil, Asylum rights activist in Sweden
Afghanistan is a country with highest numbers of asylum seekers each year in the world and many others who are suffering with lots of challenges and threats are fleeing from this country, many lose their lives in oceans on the way to Australia, Greece and other countries or there are some who are hanged in Iran.

It’s to put a light on the situation of the afghan asylum seekers, how are they making it there and how are them being sent back without considering the human and asylum rights. The government of Afghanistan in the contrary has no idea on what’s happening to its citizens.
The month of April is reminding the Afghan asylum seekers in Sweden of their upset days they spent with hunger strikes, last year. It’s to put a glance on the event and also to evaluate on the general situation of the Afghan asylum seekers, the treatment of the immigration services and other organizations in this regard, in Sweden.

50 Afghan men, women and children did a hunger strike with demonstrations on the occasion of the faithless and unfair implementations of the immigrations board of Sweden to their asylum applications and the negative decisions given to their asylum requests, in front of the building of the immigration office stationed in northern Boden city, in April 2013. There were 16 Afghans who started to hunger strike and many including women and children were standing with them in the coldest winter weather there to support them. This demonstration lasted 23 days within which many organizations including Ajmal Amin the diplomat from the Afghan embassy in Norway had visits from the demonstration, and met the hunger strikers and families.

Many discussions took place between the hunger strikers and the migration board which resulted to have individual reassessments of the asylum applications by the migration board plus they named such demonstrations beyond definitions given to asylum process and emphasized on the individual assessments.
The discussions with the migration board took them to nowhere and during this time The Swedish Network of Refugee Support Groups (FARR) which is supporting the asylum rights showed up to Boden and requested for a stop to the hunger strike and implementing a legal step in this regard, instead.
The hunger strikers and the demonstrators as per their continues respects to the immigration and asylum law and the negotiations of FARR and its practical legal implementations, stopped the hunger strike. Now it’s one year since the Afghans did the hunger strike and even though many asylum supporting units and organizations exist, no fair attention is paid to the afghan asylum applications and are mostly given negative decisions by the migration board, some of the ones who had hunger stroked were detained and deported to Afghanistan by force, it followed many to live in hidden, there are many who are in danger of force deportations to Afghanistan.
Ahmad zada and Ali Zada’s families who have been living in Sweden for more than 2 years are now facing deportations to Afghanistan.

Ali Alizada a household to two children with his wife who had fled from Afghanistan due to serious life threats against him and his family and applied asylum in Sweden is now facing force deportation to Afghanistan. Mir Wahab Ahmadzada one another of many with his wife and his 10-year old daughter is so frightened from the force deportation.
Bahar Ahmadzada who has 10 years has learned the Swedish language well and has attended schools and has gotten used to the school and environment since she made it Sweden, she speaks very good Swedish and the deportation to Afghanistan is the only thing that keeps her from her studies and her fruitful growth in the society. Bahar’s parents have no housing and education facilities left home and as many others have sold what they had to spend to flee from Afghanistan.

Maieda Ali Zada, 8, has been to school and learned Swedish with so interest. “We have nothing in Afghanistan” she added. These two families as examples to hundreds of other families have nothing left in Afghanistan and have to live such a striven life with threats if deported.
The Afghan asylum seekers already suffering from many tensions are being deported by force.
The migration board of Sweden not paying a precise attention and consideration to the current security situation of Afghanistan, their general assessments and unfair decisions made based on the general situation of Afghanistan, the silence of many of the united nations high commissions of refugees, the Swedish migration board considering the old reports of the international protection needs of asylum seekers from Afghanistan are of the obstacles for the unfair situation of the Afghan asylum seekers in the region and have turned the definition of human rights to a just commercial based title.

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