Statement! Misuse of AMASO service in European courts

 

12Statement concerning use of AMASO services in court cases!

It has recently been brought to our attention that the migration authorities of a number of European countries are using AMASO to argue that there is support available in Afghanistan for those who are forcibly returned there. The latest example brought to our attention is from Austria, where the court has misused the nature of the support we provide to those deported, including an emergency shelter to justify deporting Afghans without networks in Kabul.

It is essential to understand that according to the latest UNHCR guidelines, and a number of documents produced by them in December 2019, Kabul cannot be understood as a safe or reasonable “internal Flight Alternative’ (IFA/IRA). The existence of AMASO does not change or challenge this conclusion.

However, to avoid any confusion over the support we offer and our capacity to respond to those forcibly returned, we are explaining on this platform the exact nature of our work and our limitations, and why any argument to justify forced removal to Afghanistan based on our services and support is unjustified, inhumane and utterly cynical. Any of those authorities citing AMASO in this manner is invited to visit our office in Kabul and see for themselves (of course we take no responsibility for any injury or death they may experience).

Afghanistan Migrant Advice and Support Organization (AMASO) is a humanitarian, non-governmental and non-profit organization which works to provide first hand advice and counselling to Afghan asylum seekers deported from various European countries, as well as Turkey and Australia. We are a registered charitable organization with the Afghan Ministry of Economy. We exist because European governments are unjustifiably returning people to Kabul, most of them setting foot in the country for the first time and are without any social network, and who often end up on the streets, or under a bridge.

We started our services in 2014 because at that time (and ever since) there is a lack of support for those who are forcibly returned to Afghanistan. There is no other advice center where they ask for advice and orientation. There is very limited and specific support available from the International organizations like IOM and local organizations like ACE, and almost no support from the Afghan government, including the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation.

AMASO is already short staffed in compare to the number of people who visit us in an office in Kabul. Abdul Ghafoor can call on an informal board of advisors located abroad for advice on legal and other questions. Limited funding from small grants has covered salaries. In Kabul, we help some supporters in Europe send funds to people deported from Europe, but such support is very limited and depends on the good will and resources of activists, campaigners and supporters in Europe. AMASO has no resources of its own.

With the support of some activists from Norway, we started a shelter in 2016 where we could provide emergency accommodation to very vulnerable returnees. The shelter consisted of a kitchen, toilet and two rooms and could accommodate eight people, maximum ten, but not for prolonged periods. The project ended in 2018 after the funding for the shelter was stopped. We do provide temporary accommodation occasionally now too, but this is very difficult in the absence of stable funding, and is for a maximum of a few days.

Nonetheless, with our limited resources and generous networks, we have been able to provide advice and a friendly face to hundreds of frightened and traumatized people since the establishment of our organization five years ago.

Deportations to Afghanistan from Europe is in thousands, but we are unable to help all or even most of those deported to Afghanistan. We cannot help them find work, access medical help or access stable accommodation. We try to calm and reassure these traumatized people based on our years of experience and the training we have had in psycho-social support. We are a charity with very limited support from other humanitarian organizations, support groups and individuals based in Europe. We mainly help those who are referred to us through referrals by organizations and individuals based in Europe, and we are unable to respond even to all of those referrals.

Therefore, using our name to support the argument that all of those deported to Afghanistan can call on us for help is incorrect and very far from the reality. We will continue our support with whatever resources in hand in the future too, but we emphasize this shouldn’t be used as an excuse to deport more people, because we can only help very limited number of people and the rest receive no support and are in a desperate and dangerous  situation post deportation to Afghanistan.

Ett hårt liv väntar dem som utvisas till Afghanistan

Article by: MINNA WALLÉN-WIDUNG for Allas.se

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En som alltför väl känner till hur det är att leva i Afghanistan som återvändare, är Abdul Ghafoor. År 2013 deporterades han tillbaka till Kabul från Norge, där han fått avslag på sin asylansökan. Abdul Ghafoor har varit aktivist sedan tonåren och efter att han kommit tillbaka började han rapportera om de deporterades utsatta situation via sin blogg. 2014 grundade han organisationen Afghanistan Migrants Advice & Support Org, AMASO.

– Vårt främsta mål är att ge de deporterade rådgivning eftersom de flesta knappt vet någonting om Afghanistan. Det är väldigt svårt för dem att integreras här, så vi ger dem information om boende, hälsovård, utbildning, jurister och stödgrupper, säger han.

Någon liknande hjälp från de afghanska myndigheterna finns inte att få, berättar Abdul Ghafoor.

– Det går inte en vecka utan en självmordsattack. Det är väldigt negativt för afghanerna, och det är värst för de deporterade eftersom de återvänder efter så många år. Jag har träffat återvändande som inte vågar lämna sitt boende, barn som gråter i veckor för att de är rädda för att gå ut, säger Abdul Ghafoor.

Vissa dras in i drogberoende

Utan pengar i ett osäkert land är det svårt att hitta en meningsfull vardag. Abdul Ghafoor säger att vissa av de deporterade hamnar ”under bron”.

– Det finns en väldigt känd bro här i Kabul där de drogberoende bor. Många som kommer tillbaka är i dåligt skick, saknar pengar och känner ingen här. Därför hamnar många i ett drogberoende, bara för att komma undan sina problem.

En del av de utvisade har inte längre någon familj kvar i livet. Andra drar sig in i det sista för att kontakta dem, till och med efter att de landat i Kabul. Rädslan för hur deras familj ska reagera är stor, eftersom de har betalat stora summor pengar för att kunna skicka iväg sina barn till Europa. Att bli deporterad tillbaka innebär ett stort stigma, enligt Abdul Ghafoor.

– När familjerna skickar sina barn till Europa förväntar de sig att de ska få uppehållstillstånd och kunna skicka hem pengar. När det inte blir så kommer de att undra varför – vad har du gjort för fel? Har du dödat någon? Har du tagit droger? Varför fick din kusin uppehållstillstånd men inte du? Det är väldigt vanligt. Majoriteten av de här killarnas familjer har lånat pengar från släktingar och sålt av mark för att kunna skicka sin son till Europa och det blir en sådan press som de inte kan hantera.

Att försöka förklara hur den svenska migrationslagstiftningen fungerar är sällan ett alternativ, enligt Abdul Ghafoor. Många kommer från illitterata familjer på landsbygden, och att återvända från Europa ses som ett personligt misslyckande.

– 17 000 afghaner har lämnat landet under årets första nio månader. Majoriteten av de deporterade vill lämna landet, de ser inga möjligheter att överleva i Afghanistan, säger Abdul Ghafoor som de senaste åren har träffat hundratals återvändande.

I vissa fall kan de täcka sjukvårdskostnaderna med hjälp av privata donationer, men det är inte alla som får hjälp.

Också Abdul Ghafoor och hans organisation bistår de deporterade med vård i den mån det är möjligt.

Anser att utvisningarna ska stoppas

Abdul Ghafoor träffar regelbundet representanter för olika internationella organisationer, myndigheter, forskare och journalister för att prata om de deporterades utsatta situation. Han anser att europeiska länder, som Sverige, bör stoppa alla utvisningar till Afghanistan.

– Problemet är att de flesta länder har skygglappar på. De vägrar inse att de riskerar de här människornas liv. Många hamnar i eländiga situationer, som i den iranska militären, IS eller talibanerna. De här länderna kan inte säga att det inte är deras ansvar, för skickar du en person till ett land där de inte har någon framtid är risken stor att de rekryteras av någon av de här rörelserna.

Full article here: https://www.allas.se/samhalle/ett-hart-liv-vantar-dem-som-utvisas-till-afghanistan/146910

Afghanistan: Fact-Finding Mission to Kabul in April 2019 – Finnish Immigration Service

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A Finnish fact finding mission was in Kabul few months ago to find out about the situation of deportees/returnees after their return to Afghanistan. The mission interviewed several stakeholders in the field of migration, mental health and minority rights. AMASO had also a meeting with the mission and provided with first hand and up to date information about the situation of those deported, the kind of problems they face post deportation to Afghanistan, the situation of minorities and the overall deteriorating security situation in the country.

The report indicates that the security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated and that there is very limited services available for those deported to Afghanistan. Here is few of our comments taken from the report;

  1. According to several sources, security is indeed the biggest concern in Afghanistan for returnees and civilians in general.
  2. The overall security situation has been deteriorating since 2013-2014. People have grown tired of the deteriorating security, and in the last years large numbers of Afghans have left the country for Iran, Turkey, and Europe.
  3. There are hardly any places available to rent for people living on their own. To rent a place in Afghanistan, people need family and other connections that the landlords will trust. Landlords are not eager to rent places to people they do not know because there have been, for example, cases where the Taliban has been firing rockets from rented places in Kabul. People need friends and a network to find some place to go to. Afghanistan is all about many kinds of networks, mostly based on relatives and extended family ties.
  4. Another source says that skills acquired in Europe, for example in restaurants or car wash services and such, are not useful in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan everything is about referrals, and this applies even for the educated people
  5. People may also be suspected of committing a crime while they were abroad because they were deported.
  6. Return is a lengthy process that varies for different groups. It is easier for those who were in Afghanistan before and who are used to the conditions. It is more difficult for newcomers, families, women heads of household, and also for those returnees who left from the provinces but who return to Kabul
  7. The Afghan police are not able to deal with these cases because the police are busy tackling the Taliban and ISIS terrorism. The police are not able and not interested in dealing with personal case
  8. According to AMASO, West Kabul, inhabited by Hazaras, used to be the safest area in Kabul, but after ISIS gained ground in 2016-18 the most dangerous attacks have occurred in the west targeting Shias and Hazaras
  9. An NGO representative noted that in Dashti Barchi, people have started to be afraid of new attacks against schools, hospitals, mosques and gatherings.

Full report can be accessed in the link below here: https://migri.fi/documents/5202425/5914056/Afghanistan_FFM_Returnees_MIG-1914851.pdf/ebbe969e-aea8-768d-c10b-37fad4b2bbd2/Afghanistan_FFM_Returnees_MIG-1914851.pdf

Parts of Director of AMASO’S interview with DW

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“The situation in Afghanistan today is much worse than it was a few years ago — mostly because of the security situation in the country,” Abdul Ghafoor, who heads the Kabul-based Afghanistan Migrants Advice and Support Organization (AMASO), told DW. “You may have noticed that the number of attacks that have been carried out by Taliban all around Afghanistan, especially in Kabul, is mind-blowing.” Just a week ago, he said, Austria and Sweden even canceled deportation flights at the last minute because of the danger.

Ghafoor said many people who are deported to Afghanistan try to leave the country as quickly as possible. “Just recently, I talked to four or five who were deported from Germany,” he said. “They are now in Greece, though in really bad circumstances.”

Afghan officials have promised their EU counterparts that the country is prepared to assimilate its returned citizens. In return, Afghanistan receives development aid. Ghafoor said the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) used to put up Afghans in hotel rooms for two weeks after their return to their home country. But, now, they merely receive the equivalent of about €150 ($167). And Afghanistan’s precarious security situation can mean that hostels are pricey. So repatriated Afghans must rely on relatives, friends or acquaintances to put them up. They can apply for up to €700 in funding from the German government to help them settle back in — though, Ghafoor said, the application process entails endless paperwork.

Ghafoor, who himself was deported from Norway in 2013, said the security situation had deteriorated considerably in recent years. That, he said, made deporting Afghans from Germany irresponsible. Though the Taliban has engaged in peace talks with the government of Afghanistan, the group is “still carrying out suicide attacks killing dozens of civilians,” he said. The Islamic State (IS) group is “even more dangerous and brutal than the Taliban; so the Taliban may only pose a secondary threat,” he added.

Full article here: Afghans deported from Germany face violence, others perils

AMASO and Rights Now Sweden educational project partnership

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We are glad to announce the start of a new project with the assistance of Rights Now Sweden for a small short term project helping a limited number of returnees for educational purposes. Through the project, we will help returnees for a short period of time, 6 months or longer if possible with learning English Language and Computer programs.
 
We are hoping this will help some of the returnees find a way out of the trauma they have been through after deportation. We have started identifying returnees before we formally start the project in June, priority will be given to returnees from Sweden.
 
We are also planning to extend our program and include as many returnees possible in the near future. We also call on other organizations and private donors to join this cause and help one returnee each with the project. We will share further detail for this part of the post if we receive requests for support.

Director of AMASO’s views reflected on Netherlands based news website Groene

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But critics say the deal has pushed the Afghan government down the throat. “The EU blackmailed the Afghan government at the time,” says Abdul Ghafoor on the phone from Kabul. Ghafoor leads the Afghanistan Migrants Advice and Support Organization, a small NGO with the aim of offering refugees who return safe wherever possible. “The Commission said:” We will send you back the refugees and give you money for reception or we will use that money in Europe, choose. “But Afghanistan is at least ninety percent of its state revenue dependent on foreign aid. Then of course you don’t really have a choice. “

“The Netherlands or the EU does not monitor evictions of asylum seekers who have exhausted all legal remedies,” says Laurence Verkooijen. “So we don’t know what happens to Afghan asylum seekers after they are deported. As soon as they arrive at the airport, they are on their own. ” Abdul Ghafoor needs even fewer words: ‘There is no monitoring whatsoever. Not from the EU, not from the Afghan government. “

According to Ghafoor, these kinds of stories cannot be underestimated. “Christians absolutely run the risk of being killed.” He points to the story of 27-year-old Farkhunda Malikzada, who was murdered in March 2015 because she was said to have burned the Quran. A group of fanatical Muslims kicked and beat her to death with sticks and stones, then tied her behind a car and dragged her through the streets of Kabul. “Even though the returnees don’t say anything about their conversion, it’s just a matter of time before everyone in Afghanistan knows where you are. Social media has also penetrated here. “

Another risk is the lack of a social network. “In Afghanistan, social networks are essential for survival,” said Ghafoor. This applies above all to the group of young Afghans who fled with their families to Iran or Pakistan and later made the journey to Europe alone. If these boys are sent back to Afghanistan, they will end up in a country they don’t know. Some cross the border to Iran again, but there is a threat of recruitment by the Iranian army. “There are certainly two known cases of Afghan young men being deported from Norway, fleeing from Afghanistan to Iran and recruited there by the Iranian regime to fight on the Assad side in Syria,” says Ghafoor. “One died, the other managed to escape. He now roams around in Turkey. “

It is not strange, both Schuster and Ghafoor believe, that especially the young men sent back – more than seventy percent according to estimates – are on their way to Europe in no time. They are once again crossing the mountains of Iran to Turkey, where they have to stay out of the hands of the Turkish police – last year alone Turkey would have sent back at least 15,000 Afghans. They take the land route via Bulgaria or the sea route to Greece and get stuck in the mud pools of Lesvos. Afghans were the largest group of asylum seekers who arrived in Greece last year.

Full article in Dutch can be found here: Article

From Europe to Afghanistan, experiences of child returnees

Samuel Halls conducted a research commissioned by Save the Children to monitor the situation of Afghan child returnees back to Afghanistan. There has hardly been any research on this topic and therefore the research has importance in collecting information about the situation of Afghan child returnees at the time of asylum, both with and without families.

The research was conducted last year and was welcomed in the academic circle and mentioned in many international media. AMASO has the privilege to be a part of the research and to help Samuel Hall with connecting with the returnees and providing a safe address for conducting the interviews. Recently we have been contacted by several individuals and organizations to share information about the situation of child returnees.

Therefore,  once again we are putting a link to the research paper so that it is available for those who are in search of information.

Full Link: From Europe to Afghanistan, Experiences of child returnees