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Afghans deported from Europe face death, torture

Afghans deported from Europe face death, torture

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Oct 05, 2017 - 15:27

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): A global human rights watchdog on Thursday assailed European governments for putting thousands of Afghans in harm’s way by forcibly returning them to their homeland.

The Afghans deported from European countries were at serious risk of torture, kidnapping, death and other human rights abuses, Amnesty International said in a new report.

At a time when civilian casualties in Afghanistaninfo-icon are at their highest levels, the report said, European governments were forcing increasing numbers of asylum-seekers back to the dangers from which they fled.

The new report, Forced Back to Danger: Asylum-Seekers Returned from Europe to Afghanistan, details harrowing cases of the individuals who were returned from Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany.

It added the deported Afghans risked being killed, injured in bomb attacks, or left to live in constant fear of being persecuted for their sexual orientation or conversion to Christianity.

Anna Shea, Amnesty International’s researcher on refugee and migrant rights, was quoted as saying: “In their determination to increase the number of deportations, European governments are implementing a policy that is reckless and unlawful.

"Wilfully blind to the evidence that violence is at a record high and no part of Afghanistan is safe, they are putting people at risk of torture, kidnapping, death and other horrors,” Anna Shea added.

The deportees include unaccompanied children and young adults, who were children at the time when they arrived in Europe. Several people interviewed by Amnesty International were sent to parts of Afghanistan they had never known.

Horia Mosadiq, AI's Afghanistan researcher, said: “These returns brazenly violate international law and must stop immediately. The same European countries that once pledged support for a better future for Afghans are now crushing their hopes and abandoning them to a country that has become even more dangerous since they fled."

EU statistics show between 2015 and 2016, the number of Afghans returned by European countries nearly tripled: from 3,290 to 9,460. The returns correspond to a marked fall in recognition of asylum applications, from 68% in September 2015 to 33% in December 2016.

At the same time, the numbers of civilian casualties have risen. In 2016, 11,418 people were killed or injured. Attacks on civilians took place in every part of the country and most of them were carried out by armed groups, including the Talibaninfo-icon and Islamic State.

In the first six months of the current, UNAMA documented 5,243 civilian casualties. On 31 May, in one of the largest attacks in Kabul’s history, more than 150 people were killed and twice as many injured.

Amnesty International researchers interviewed several families who hauntingly described their ordeals after being forcibly returned from European countries, losing loved ones, narrowly surviving attacks on civilians, and living in fear of persecution in a country they hardly know.

Sadeqa (assumed name) and her family fled Afghanistan in 2015 after her husband Hadi was kidnapped, beaten and released in return for a ransom. Hazarding a months-long journey, they arrived in Norway with hopes of finding a safe future.

The Norwegian authorities denied their asylum claim and gave them a choice between being detained before being deported or being given EUR 10,700 to return voluntarily.

Months after returning to Afghanistan, Sadeqa’s husband disappeared. Days passed without any knowledge of his whereabouts. Hadi had been killed. Sadeqa believed his kidnappers murdered him. She fears visiting his grave.

The Farhadi family were also forcibly returned from Norway, in October 2016. The following month they were near the Baqir-ul-Uloom mosqueinfo-icon in Kabul when it was bombed, killing at least 27 people. Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the armed group calling itself Islamic State.

Farid (not his real name) fled Afghanistan with his family when he was a child. They made their way to Iran before reaching Norway, where he converted to Christianity. In May 2017, he was deported to Kabul.

Farid had no memories of Afghanistan. Now, he lives in fear of persecution, in a country where armed groups including the Taliban have targeted people for converting to a different faith from Islam.

“I am scared,” he told Amnesty International. “I don’t know anything about Afghanistan. Where will I go? I don’t have funds to live alone and I can’t live with relatives because they will see that I don’t pray.”

Azad (assumed name), who grew up in Iran, fled to the Netherlands with his brother. Returned to Afghanistan in May 2017, he identifies as gay and is fearful that his sexual orientation will be discovered by people who wish him harm.

He was so frightened of being returned, he attempted to commit suicide prior to his deportation. “I try to be a man here. I’m losing my mind. I am fearing a lot at night – I am really scared,” he told Amnesty International.

pr/mud

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