Civil society activists on Wednesday voiced concerns about the treatment of Afghan refugees in Europe and Australia, calling on the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations (MoRR) to do more to support them and ensure they are not wrongfully deported by foreign host governments.
Afghans have sought asylum in neighboring South Asian countries as well as more distant nations for decades, looking to flee the Soviet Invasion, civil war violence in the 1990s, the Taliban regime and more recently conflict sparked by the U.S-led invasion in 2001.
According to civil society activists, many of the Afghan refugees have recently faced progressively less hospitable environments in their destination countries. Cases of flagrant human rights abuses were cited.
“Based on our information, some refugees have been deported to Afghanistan and some others were sedated and then brought back to Afghanistan unconsciously,” claimed civil society activist Zahra Sepahr. “So they have been clearly mistreated and their human rights were violated.”
The activists cited new policies of the governments of Australia and the Netherlands, two popular countries for Afghan asylum-seekers, as particularly problematic. Reportedly these countries have begun deporting Afghan refugees with growing frequency and without provocation.
The activists on Wednesday accused the MoRR of not taking sufficient measures to support Afghan refugees looking to move to Western countries or those who already reside in them. They claimed the Ministry has neglected the challenges faced by Afghan asylum-seekers.
“We demand the government work more seriously on refugee issues,” another activist named Ahmad Shah Stanikzai said. “Our diplomatic missions and embassies abroad should talk with the host countries.”
Last week, Jamahir Anwari, the Minister of Refugees and Repatriation, was called in front of the Lower House to answer to charges of corruption and abuse of office. There was suspicion he had been giving away land in Afghanistan for his own profit and signing unapproved deals with foreign governments that allowed Afghans abroad to be deported without due cause.
Although the MPs concluded the hearing satisfied with the explanations he provided, on Wednesday is appeared civil society groups are not ready to let him off the hook just yet.
The MoRR assured it has and would continue to closely monitor and investigate problems faced by Afghan refugees. Specifically, Anwari said plans were in place to negotiate with the Dutch government about recent incidents involving deportations and mistreatment.
“We have summoned officials from the Dutch Embassy to discuss the issue with them, and we have also voiced our criticisms through diplomatic channels with the help of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Anwari said. “We hope that the kingdom of Holland will avoid doing this to Afghan refugees,” he added referring to forced and unprovoked deportations.
In the past, there have been reports of the mistreatment of Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan, which are home to the largest portions of the global Afghan refugee population. However, increasingly, as coalition nations draw down their presence in Afghanistan in the lead up to the end of the NATO combat mission in 2014, issues for Afghan refugees have arisen in Western nations as well.