It has been almost a week since the family landed at Kabul Airport, but the shock is still etched deep into the faces of the three children, their parents and their uncle. For the last 4.5 years, following a long and difficult journey across Europe, they had lived in Norway. Life was not easy, but Rahimi and his wife believed they had given their children a chance at a better future, one where they were not afraid for their lives, where their children could learn and play in a country at peace. The children had been 12, 7 and 3 when they arrived – by the time they were arrested, detained and then deported, Nasir had spent more than half his life in Norway and speaks Norwegian better the Dari. He can write Norwegian but not Dari.
The children are bewildered and confused. Afghanistan is a strange and alien place – they want to be home in Norway, going to school, seeing their friends, eating the food that has become familiar. Instead the family of six are crowded into a small room 3m X 4m, without heating and without warm bedding and even if there was enough food to eat, no one has any appetite.
The adults are distraught – it is not just the children’s mother who weeps in anguish. After all the risks they took to ensure their safety, they find themselves in a city in which in less than 4 weeks there have 7 suicide attacks carried out and 2 more foiled, a city they don’t know, with no money and no contacts.
The family are from Urozgan, but they cannot go back there. It is one of the most dangerous provinces of Afghanistan, especially for Hazara and yet knowing this, the Norwegian authorities chose to deport them. They sent the children back to a country that is not just alien to them but extremely dangerous, with parents at a loss to know how to provide for and protect them.
This is not the first family sent back by Norway, and other Scandinavian countries have also deported families – the same Scandinavian countries who cherish their own children, who have signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child. That Convention says priority must always be given to the best interests of the child.
The tear-stained faces of these traumatized family are evidence that Norway and Sweden are in breach of their international obligations – that they are betraying children on the basis of the ethnicity and nationality. This policy of deporting children is inhumane.