By: Abdul Ghafoor
The Norwegian Integration Minster Sylvi Listhaug , recently responded through a Facebook post, dated 14th November with delight rather than shame to the 12 November New York Times article, pointing out Norway’s increasingly harsh treatment of Afghan refugees. The Minister crowed that the NYT would send ‘an important signal…to the whole world’ that those whose claims are rejected would be deported and that Norway has world’s strictest return policy.
Translation of the text ” This is an important signal reaching out to the whole world through New York Times. The pressure on forced deportations and the change in direction on Norwegian asylum politics under the Progress Party and this government, is being noticed. That is good! The time for talk is over – now, what counts is action *thumbs up*. we will lead a strict policy, meaning that those who gets a rejection, is going out. Either voluntarily, or by force! Like and share if you agree!”
Those deported include families (some without fathers) with small children, who are being returned to a city they do not know and a culture with which they are not familiar. But more importantly they are being returned to Kabul at a time when anti-government attacks are increasing. One family, the Mousavi family had sought shelter in Karte Sakhi shortly after their return mid-August. Unable to return to their home province, they were still in Karte Sakhi three months later on 11th October gunmen attacked Shrine close to where the family is currently living and killed 14 people, injuring at least 36 others. The family cowered, terrified of the flying bullets as government forces fought with the attackers.
The Basharpal family, frightened and hiding moments after the attack was carried out on Care organisation, close to the hotel.
Another family, Mirwais Basharpal also recently returned from Norway were staying in the hotel in Shar E Naw (provided by the Norwegian government, which has taken on itself the right to prohibit visitors) when the nearby Care organisation was attacked by a suicide bomber on 6th of September – blowing out the windows of the hotel the returnees are accommodate and showering the children with broken glass.
None of these events has caused the inappropriately named Integration Minister to question her policy or position. Norway rejects more Afghan claims than any other EU state – it is not logical or reasonable to assume that Afghans who arrive in Norway are less entitled to protection than those who claim elsewhere. Clearly some of those who are returned are at risk – even Norway accepts this, but argues that there are safe internal relocation alternatives, such as Kabul.
No Sylvi, those families, children and adults you are deporting to Afghanistan are not living in safety in Kabul or any of other provinces considered safe! Children deported live in trauma and fear and aren’t able to integrate into a society they have hardly been part of. Children deported to Afghanistan talk about their school mates, their football mates and the life in Norway. Why wouldn’t they? They are children at the end of the day. They hardly understand what your inhumane policy is doing to them or their future.
Since at least 2014, Kabul cannot be considered safe. The following is a list of the largest attacks in 2016 (there are far more attacks with lower fatalities):
1 January: the Taliban exploded a bomb and engaged in a firefight at a restaurant in Kabul, leading to the death of a child and wounding 15 others.
4 January: a bomb-filled truck exploded at a facility for workers in Kabul, killing one civilian and injuring another 22 civilians.
20 January: a Taliban suicide bomber attacked a bus carrying media personnel in Kabul on 20 January, killing seven people and wounding more than 20;
1 February: A police facility in Kabul was struck by a suicide bomber on, resulting in the deaths of more than 20 police officers,
27 February: 15 people killed
15 April: multiple coordinated attacks across Kabul, including Presidential Palace
19 April: 64 people killed in attack at Pul-e-Mahmud, Kabul
25 May: 11 people killed during morning rush hour in Kabul
20 June: 14 people killed in central Kabul
30 June: 27 police cadets killed, more than 40 wounded
23 July: 80+ killed and at least 230 injured during peaceful demonstration by Hazaras protesting discrimination
16 killed, 50+ wounded in attack on American University campus, Darulaman, Kabul
5 attacks in 24 hours (5-6 September): Monday – 41 people killed, 103 others were wounded in one attack
5 October: 20 wounded in a suicide attack in Kabul
11 October: Gunmen attack on a shrine killing 14 and injuring around 36 others
19 October: Gunmen kills 2 American soldiers, injures 3 advisers
12 November: Suicide attack on Bagram airbase killing 4 American soldiers and injuring 16 other US and International forces
16 November: Suicide attacks killed 4 security personal and injured another 11 in the heart of Kabul
Abdul Ghafoor is a refugee rights activist and director at Afghanistan Migrants Advice and Support Organisation. follow on twitter https://twitter.com/ghafoorazad