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.

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