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.
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.
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