“Are you safe”, “please stay safe” is what I always hear every time there is a blast happening in Kabul. However, this time it was not me anyone had to be concerned about, but dozens of deportees from Norway, including some families who were stranded in a hotel only few meters from the site of a suicide attack followed by heavy gunfire at guest house in downtown Kabul around 11:20 pm Kabul time, last night. Deportees from Norway are accommodated in a hotel named Roshan hotel, situated inside Roshan plaza in Shar E Naw area of Kabul.
This was the third attack in a row in a single day in Kabul. Earlier in the day, two blasts targeted the Ministry of Defense compound killing at least 24 people injuring at least 91 others. The victims include some of the top security personal including the chief of police district two of Kabul city.
According to different media sources; the first blast hit the gate of the Ministry of Defense following another suicide attack after people gathered to help the injured of the first blast. The suicide bomber was wearing an Afghan army uniform, said different media sources. http://www.dpa-international.com/topic/militants-take-hostages-afghan-capital-bombings-kill-24-160906-99-346785
I was set to meet one of the families deported 8 days ago in my office today. Unaware of the fact that they have passed the night with fear and sounds of bullets and blasts. I tried to reach some of deportees soon after I heard about the blast. I could not reach any of them at that point of time, it was late night and they must have been in a state of trauma witnessing the attacks. I called Mr. Sakhi who i was supposed to meet today, his response to my call was.
“We are still stranded in the hotel and we are not allowed to get out of here, we had a terrible night with sounds of bullet and blasts, my children were frightened to death. A flower pot hit my younger daughter in the head but luckily she didn’t get any serious injuries. All the glasses in our room shattered and the tables and chairs were badly damaged”
Recently a large number of Afghans from neighboring countries Iran and Pakistan and some of the European countries have been deported back to Afghanistan, mostly Kabul. The countries that are deporting Afghans claim Kabul is a safe haven for most of the deportees if they can’t go to their own provinces. Most of the European states have used this argument for a long time now, just to sideline Afghans and give very little attention to their plight. The deporting countries claim the deportees can relocate in Kabul or other areas in accordance with the UNHCR guideline regarding the IRFA (Internal Flight or Relocation Alternative). This is truly unrealistic and against the guideline, which emphasizes on the safety of the areas refugees are supposed to be relocated in.
Considering the recent regular attacks in Kabul and the number of civilian casualties caused by the attacks. There is no doubt one can consider Kabul as a safe city anymore. Therefore relocating deportees to a city like Kabul is as dangerous as relocating people back to provinces like Helmand or Kunduz. This is not only on the European states to reconsider their decision on refouling Afghans at this point of time, but the responsibility also goes to the Afghan government to stop thinking about signing any kind of new agreement which will encourage force return to Afghanistan. The Afghan government is also responsible to make urgent negotiations with Pakistan and Iran to extend the stay of Afghan refugees in the concerned countries because they are also as vulnerable as any other refugee who have to return to a war torn country after staying several years in exile.