By: Abdul Ghafoor
Deportation of Afghan refugees from European states has gone unnoticed for many years in the past. Until with the recent exodus of Afghan refugees and the fear of deportation for many of those who had recently arrived in Europe and their asylum claims have been rejected. There has also been up and down in the number of deportation to Afghanistan in the past few years. According to a figure released by the Ministry of refugees and repatriation the number of deportation from Europe to Afghanistan was a little over 900 in 2013 and 2014.
The number however decreased in 2015, with only 340 people deported. The decrease in the number of deporteees was mostly due to the stance and pleas made by the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation to the countries that forcibly return Afghans. The plea was mostly based around the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, and the outreach of Taliban in most parts of Afghanistan since 2001. In a meeting we had with the Minister Mr. Alami Blakhi in February 2015, he believed it was not safe for Afghans to be returned to Afghanistan, especially families.
Most of the European states that used to deport Afghans have been respecting the request made by the Minister and MOUs and have stopped, or decreased forcibly returning Afghans, except Norway. Norway has once again accelerated the number of deportations to Afghanistan, especially in the past few months. A large number of families are a part of the recent deportation. Most of the children deported along with the families have been born and raised in Norway and have never been to Afghanistan, they hardly understand or communicate in any Afghan local languages.
One of the families deported last week is Mr. Karim Hamidi her wife (Halima) and a 4 year old daughter. The family was also victim of the harsh Norwegian policies and were forcibly returned back to Afghanistan despite the father’s attempt to self-harm.
In an interview with the family at local restaurant in down town Kabul I found Mr. Karim’s left hand in bandages as a result of the self-harm attempt. He claimed, he was ready to take his life instead of being returned back to Afghanistan. He does not feel safe in Afghanistan and fears for his life and the lives of his wife and daughter. He believed it was an unfair decision to return them forcibly, he was also complaining about the mistreatment by the Norwegian authorities during the deportation process, he described the deportation process as such;
“It was between 3:30 – 4:00 Am when the door knocked. It was the Norwegian police knocking on our door, they entered the house as soon as I opened the door. We were told to collect our belongings because we were being deported to Afghanistan. We made pleas, cried and screamed as loud as we could and begged them not to deport us. They didn’t care and kept pursuing us to leave the house. I went to the kitchen, took a knife, and started cutting the vein on my left hand. I had a choice between being killed back in Afghanistan post deportation, and killing myself in Norway. I chose to finish my life in Norway instead”.
Norwegian police had escaped the scene when witnessing Karim cutting himself. They had only returned when Karim had collapsed due to severe bleeding. The police then had called the ambulance and shifted Mr. Karim to the hospital. The mother and her daughter were moved to the airport and then transferred to the deportation center (Trandum) right away. Mr. Karim has got 35 stiches later in the hospital, and his left hand is still numb. “I woke up twice when they were shifting me to the hospital and collapsed back, Added Karim. I had lost a lot of blood on the way and had been unconscious for a long time. In the hospital, they injected me with sedative drug to keep me calm and moved me to the deportation center. Last time I remember i woke up, I was in a taxi with my hands cuffed in my back, my legs tied with each other and my shoulders and arms tied with an extra strap and I was being transferred to deportation center too”
Finally, the family was put on a plane on Saturday 6th of August to be deported to Afghanistan. The family met each other again only at the airport before refoulement . They were put on a passenger flight with the transit routes between Russia and Dubai. The Norwegian police didn’t stop using force against the family after they started to resist deportation despite Karim’s severe injury on his left hand.
The police kept on using severe force against Mr. Karim and Halima whenever they see any movement. They kept on pushing their heads towards the sit and holding their mouth with extreme force to avoid them making any noise.
Mr. Karim’s 4 year old daughter has been witness to all these cruel treatment, and had been badly traumatized. She would hardly talk to a stranger now, claimed the mother.
Despite all the facts in the ground and the ongoing deteriorating security situation all over Afghanistan, including capital Kabul. The forced expulsion of families in to a war zone arises many questions about the safety and survival of the families, especially the children, who are affected the most in any process. The recent attack on Hazara minority in Kabul on 23rd July 2016, which later claimed near 100 lives injuring more than 250 people, mostly students from various universities in Kabul. The attack claimed to be carried out by ISIS is a new challenge for the Afghan government to the already existing challenges to deal with with. https://kabulblogs.wordpress.com/2016/07/23/blasts-in-kabul-targeting-minority-hazaras-killed-at-least-61-and-injured-hundreds/
For the Hamidi family, the general worsening security situation is not the only fear they have. The family also fears for their lives and are concerned about their future and the future of their daughter because Ms. Halima, Karim’s wife had escaped a forced marriage when she and Karim fled Afghanistan. Halima can be victim of honor killing if they are found anywhere in Afghanistan, in a male dominating society where women are killed by the name of honor on daily bases.
Note: all the names used in the article is not original names to protect the identity of the family.