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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About Abdul Ghafoor

Abdul Ghafoor is a refugee rights activist and blogger stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan.
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