By: Abdul Ghafoor
When thousands of Afghans fled the country in the past couple of years and went to Europe to claim asylum. They hardly knew they will be dealt with ambiguity, sidelined and not welcomed, instead they will have to deal with the fear of deportation . This is actually the current situation of many young Afghans and families who entered EU in the past couple of years, most of them during the refugee crisis in 2015. A large number of Afghan minors headed to Sweden and Norway, thought to be harmonious towards Afghan youth, they were clearly not.
Since the start of 2016, the Scandinavia have been forcibly returning a large number of young Afghans, some of them minors, and families back to Afghanistan. A larger portion of the current returnees were those who have sett foot in Afghanistan for the first time. Facing ambiguity and uncertain future in absence of social or economic network has mostly lead them leave the country as soon as they can, some gets to do it sooner, the others might take time to arrange and leave after few months of their return.
Each time i meet a newly arrived returnees and then hear back from them either from Iran and Turkey within in weeks or months. I keep asking the same questions repeatedly, does deportation to Afghanistan really work at all?
This is the story of a young Afghan who was deported from Norway back to Afghanistan at the start of this year. Like many other young returnees and without the support of a social and economic network in the country, he was equally lost in to ambiguity and an uncertain future. I met him when he was recently deported to Afghanistan. Like many other returnees, i met him few other times also over the past couple of months, but i hardly knew where he was and what was he up to. Something he fear to even share with despite providing assurance of secrecy. Based on my experience of working with the returnees over the pas couple of years i imagine he has gone through a very hard time that he fears to share it with anyone.
I had only heard he was leaving the country, but hardly knew about his whereabouts. I received the above pictures from him on 16th of June. The van they were travelling from Iran to Turkey had fell from a hill injuring many of the passengers, the returnee was luckily to have survived the crush with few bruises only.
Today i had a chance to talk to him again about his journey and about a research i am conducting. The 20 minutes conversation with him was one of those i wanted to keep hearing to let him share all the sufferings he had witnessed and gone through in the past few months, maybe that will give him some comfort.
This is what he had to say about his journey:
” This journey was very difficult for me and took me almost 1 month to get to Turkey. 25 of which was spent on the way between Pakistan and Iran. In Pakistan, we were kidnapped for ransom by human traffickers. The kidnappers were demanding 500$ from each of us. We were forced to provide 500$ each in a week, or else they will force us to sit on a burning stove. I had no one to refer to except the smuggler who had promised to take us to Turkey. I called the smuggler and requested him to pay the kidnappers the amount they have demanded and I will work and pay him back once we are released. It was 6 of us, kept in different locations”
” The smugglers paid the kidnappers the money and set as free. We reached Iran and then kept on going to Turkey, on the way to Turkey, our van fell from a hill and we were all injured. There were children, men women from different nationalities with us. Some got sever injuries, other survived. I got lucky to not have got any sever injury except few bruises”
The returnee has worked in Turkey for 3 months and has been able to pay the smuggler who took him from Afghanistan to Turkey. He has only saved 300$ which he intends to use to get to Greece. He has already visited the waters connecting Turkey and Greece and has decided over the routes to get to the Greek Island. According to him, it will be 5 of them who will move together and will not pay to a smuggler this time. They can’t afford a smuggler.
The returnee is planning to return back to Norway to let them know they had taken a wrong decision. His life was in danger when he had applied for asylum for the first time and was in danger during his stay in Afghanistan. He however fears to share anything about the locations and circumstances he has lived in, but he is confident he has new proof and supporting documents that would support his claim.
5 of them, including the returnee will try their luck tonight. As he said;
“we will try our luck tonight. If i reached Greece safe and sound, i will let you know. If you don’t hear from me, i don’t know where i would be, alive or dead!”