Psychosocial support sessions for deportees/returnees | session 3

On 5th of April 2021, we successfully organized our 3rd psychosocial support session with 6 participants who were in need for such session. The participants were deported from various European countries such as Germany, Sweden and Norway over the past couple of years. This session was held with the support of Peace of Mind Afghanistan. Ms. Somaya Ahmadi from PoMA and Ms. Zahra Rezai from AMASO jointly led the session.

This session was focused on 3 topics to help deportees.

  • Self-awareness
  • Types of self-awareness
  • positive, negative, and neutral characteristics

The sessions are designed inclusive and participatory to provide the participants with a platform where they can share their views and problems and find an answer to their questions. We are hopeful these session may reduce from the problems, tensions, anxiety and loneliness in absence a social network in Afghanistan. Most of our participants are those who do not have family and social network in Afghanistan. Through this sessions, we do not only aim to help them psychosocially, but also to provide them with platform where they can bond, share their problems and find an immediate solution.

This sessions will also help deportees make a group and help each other with the information and solutions they have about different issue they have been facing.

From Austria to Afghanistan | Forced return and a new migration cycle, short review

By: Abdul Ghafoor

Mr. Ali Ahmad has recently conducted a research about the situation of those deported from Austria to Afghanistan and has interviewed a number of Afghans recently deported from Austria. In his research, the author has focused on several issues deportees face post return, such as; deteriorating security situation, importance of social network for Afghan deportees, non – availability of support assistance package for deportees from Austria and the mental health situation of those deported to Afghanistan.

More about the author;

” Ali Ahmad is a PhD candidate at the Department for Migration and Globalisation at the Danube University Krems (DUK). He received his Master‘s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from the European Peace University (EPU). Ahmad has been working as a consultant for the VIDC since 2015 and has written research papers on Afghan refugees and diaspora communities in Europe. His most recent study for VIDC, „A Guide to Afghan Diaspora Engagement in Europe“, was published in March 2020. As a trained doctor, he has also worked in various international research and media organisations and has published extensively on political, security and social issues in Afghanistan. His research areas include migration, diaspora, labour market and non-state security actors in Afghanistan.”

The author has interviewed 16 returnees, 3 out of the rest interviewed for the research had chosen to return ‘voluntarily’ and the remaining 13 were forcibly deported to Afghanistan. The author’s finding indicates that the security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated and has deemed Afghanistan as ” A NOT SAFE COUNTRY ” in the recommendation part of the research. However, a more strong recommendation highlighting some of the recent techniques, such as targeted killing and magnetic bombs the Taliban are using to target civilians and the human rights activists and journalists would have been more effective in terms of portraying the very recent and changing dynamic of the security situation in the country.

Author’s recommendation ;

“Afghanistan is not a safe country


The Afghan government has failed to protect its citizen throughout the years, and it continues to be unable to provide protection to returnees from Europe. The Taliban control more territory in Afghanistan than any time since they were ousted from power in 2001. Consequently, no place in Afghanistan is safe for returnees, and Austria should immediately halt the deportation of
Afghans to Afghanistan, irrespective of the JWF agreement. Furthermore, the asylum decisions by the Austrian government regarding Afghan asylum seekers should reflect the reality of Afghanistan’s security situation for fleeing Afghans.

Additionally, the Austrian government should reconsider ‘returning’ to Afghanistan Afghans, who were born, or had lived all their lives, in a different country. Their personal security is even more at risk, due to their lack of knowledge of the country and an absence of a social, professional and tribal network to provide protection and access to the labor market.”

In his second recommendation, the author has recommended to give the asylum seekers access to labor market in Austria. He has then recommended to give access to labor market so that to be – returnees can then utilize the skills, when they are deported to Afghanistan. I would have loved if the author had recommended to give the asylum seekers access to labor market so that they could find another reason to stay in Austria, through work, or study, not that it will be helpful for them post deportation. My personal experience of working with hundreds of deportees/returnees over the past several years shows that the skills asylum seekers learn in the host countries have rarely been useful back in the country. The main reason they are not implementable post return is due to the difference in the job systems of both Europe and Afghanistan. In Europe, most of the work is done with the help of machineries, but in Afghanistan people still use the old techniques and main power, instead of machines.

Author’s recommendation :

“Allow asylum seekers access to the labor market in Austria


Granting asylum seekers access to the labor market, educational system and socio-political life in Austria would allow Afghan returnees to utilize their skills and experience in Afghanistan. It would also minimize the economic and psycho-social pressure on returnees. The psycho-social pressure often distances an already dwindled social network, further lowering the changes of returnees finding employment and thus triggering re-migration”

In his third recommendation, the author has concluded his research by recommending to provide support system for deportees from Austria. Austria is one of the few European countries that has no support package for those who are deported forcefully to Afghanistan. Only those who chose to return voluntarily receive a limited amount of support from IOM, the rest end up with no support at all, except for the 12500 Afs immediate cash assistance that provided at Kabul International Airport, to all of those who are deported forcefully using charter planes. The author has rightfully pointed out, that non – availability of any support package or system makes re – integration much more difficult for deportees.

Author’s recommendation ;

Currently, the Afghan government is unable to provide effective assistance to returnees in general, and from Austria in particular. International organizations target particular groups. For instance, the UNHCR supports the more than four million Internally displaced people (IDPs) in over-crowed camps in Afghanistan. While many returnees become IDPs due to their inability to return to their district of origin, they do not receive specialized support. The IOM does support returnees with an assistance package, but only those who return ‘voluntarily’. However, as this study shows, those that do so, have a social, tribal and professional
network that remained intact during their absence. The IOM assistance package did not help the ‘voluntary’ returnees to reintegrate into the Afghan society or return to the labor market. None of the deportees were assisted by IOM. However, it is those, who were returned forcefully that are most in need of reintegration support. A reintegration support system needs to be developed to assist all types of returnees to reintegrate into the Afghan labor market, thereby minimizing the chances of re-migration. This is the job for, not only the Afghan government, but also the deporting country – such as Austria, – with the assistance of international institutions and local organizations, together with the Afghan diaspora organizations in Austria.

This research has been conducted at a time when European countries are preparing to double the number of deportations to Afghanistan sidelining the actual truth on the ground. Therefore, it is important that this kind of researches are conducted by other researchers and individuals to, hoping this will portray the reality of what happens to those who are deported to Afghanistan and highlight their situation post return.

Full research is available here

Psychosocial support sessions for deportees/returnees | session 2

One 28th of February 2021, we held our second psychosocial support session for a number of deportees who were in need of such sessions. This session was also organized in cooperation with Peace of Mind Afghanistan and led by one its psychologists Ms. Sumaya Ahmadi.

From the feedback we received from our last session, this time we focused only on one topic to make sure there is an equal participation of all the participants and only one matter is dealt during each session. This time we only focused on how to reduce anxiety and stress for those of the deportees who are suffering from anxiety and stress. For this purpose, handouts translated in to Dari was handed over to the participants to make sure they understand the language and deal with stress in the light of the guidance that is provided to them in the handouts.

The participants of these sessions were mainly those who are in desperate need of psychosocial support due to the experience they have while they were in Europe, and the problems and isolation they have faced post deportation to Afghanistan. After we received the feedback from the participants, one of them was hopeful these sessions may help him with the stress he is going through right now.

“Thanks for organizing these session, it has been very helpful for me to communicate with other deportees and find a common ground to share our stories and find relevant advice and support from the psychologist running the sessions”

Another participant who hasn’t been in the previous sessions has been participating in several sessions with other organizations since his return to Afghanistan. He has had suicide tendencies and has been suffering from severe depression and stress. He also found out the sessions helpful and shared his views and appreciations for organizing further sessions. We will follow – up his case further and try to help him with one to one meetings, if needed.

Psychosocial support sessions for deportees/returnees |session 1

Due to repeated requests from deportees seeking psychosocial support in Afghanistan, AMASO organized a session with the support of Peace of Mind Afghanistan (PoMA) to help reduce the problems of the deportees/returnees related to stress, isolation, lack of self-esteem and improve their mental health situation to have a normal life post return to Afghanistan. Ms Lyla, the founder and director of PoMA carried out the first of many sessions we have will regularly organized for those in need.

Some of the participants were those who have been deported to Afghanistan over the past several year and some have recently been deported to Afghanistan. The participants were deported from Germany and Sweden mainly. This sessions was also an opportunity to provide those without social networks in Afghanistan with a platform to share their ideas and help each other with their experience of survival in Afghanistan. One thing that was common among all of the participants was that those without social networks had found it much more difficult to re – integrate than those who have had their acquaintances in Afghanistan aftery they were returned.

” My family is not in Afghanistan, i live at a relative’s home and do not have any friend, and no where to go. Each morning when i wake, my biggest tension is how to end the day. I have been looking for job opportunities, but since i don’t know many people in Afghanistan, i have failed to find a mean of suvival”

Above is the statement of one of the deportees who has been deported from Germany in April 2019 . Another participant, who has recently been deported from Germany has the same situation. His family is in Greece and he has been deported from Germany to Afghanistan, where he knows no one. He doesn’t have a place to stay and often ends up in mosques due to lack of an accommodation.

Lyla also explained during her session about the nature of the support available and explained on what level psychosocial support can help deportees get back to normal. She said; psychologists cannot solve all the problem but can try to make the beneficiary feel better and decrease the level of their depression. She explained two types of problems. The first, problems which are under control and the second, problems that are out of control. Some of the problems that deportees mentioned as security, job, housing are not under our control, thinking about them is just wasting the time and energy because we cannot solve them at all. But we can manage this type of problems like isolation, depression, sleeping, adjusting as they are controllable. She said: “the first exercise is to classify problems and try to think and work on those which are related to each one personally.

Lyla suggested that the participants should try to socialize and talk to someone about their situation, if listener cannot realize their feeling, it is not important because keeping feelings and concerns make them isolated which will affect them negatively. That was also one of the main intentions of the session organized. We have been contacted by deportees who are in severe isolation and start the use of drugs, in order to reduce the level of their anxiety and depression.

Support a deportee/returnee | campaign

In a continuation of our campaign to help deportees using their skills and provide them a platform to be able to showcase their talents and find a way for survival, today we are introducing another deportee. All those deported to Afghanistan receive very little support from the NGOs, which often takes months of paperwork and waiting, and no support from the Afghan government. This leaves them in a very tough situation in Kabul, where the security situation is deteriorating every passing day, and the only chance of survival is having network and power. Since the deportees have very limited network who could help them find work or any other means of survival, they mostly rely on support from their friends in the countries they have been deported from.

Often, the support by the activists ends within few months of their return, because they are short term and doesn’t continue for too long. Therefore, there is very limited long term solution to the situation of the deportees. Like many other activists, AMASO has been among very few organizations that has direct contact with deportees and has been helping many for the past 6 years. We have helped a number of most vulnerable deportees with temporary accommodation, educational support, advice and counselling and other practical support.

This time, we want to use our platform to initiate this campaign and help those of the deportees who think they have a skill and need a platform. We hope we can bring their talent, skills to our followers, friends and activists to help the deportees. We also encourage all our friends and the friends of the Afghan refugees to take part in this initiative and help the deportees.

M. Ali Qasimi

Qasimi was deported from Sweden to Afghanistan on 28 – 9 – 2019. More than one year of his deportation to Afghanistan, he hasn’t yet been able to find a way of survival. He lives at a small house along with two other deportees from Sweden, which is funded by some activists from Sweden. Since the support is not enough for them to survive in Kabul, Qasimi is using his time to paint. AMASO want to help him spread his work and potentially find buyers who would love to buy one of the paintings to help Qasimi with his talent and skill.

If you want to support him, you can buy one of his paintings. His paintings are listed as below along with the prices ( including the shipment ).

Those 20×30 prices are 50$
Those 30×40 prices are 100$
Those 60×80 prices are 200$

Here is a latest story on the Guardian UK about the situation of those deported to Afghanistan. Nabi and his friends have also been interviewed.

If you are interested to buy a painting and help Qasimi. You can use the WhatsApp button on our Facebook page and we will organize to send the painting with coordination of M . Ali Qasimi.

Support a deportee/returnee | campaign

Today we mark the start of a campaign to help deportees using their skills and provide them a platform to be able to showcase their talents and find a way for survival. All those deported to Afghanistan receive very little support from the NGOs, which often takes months of paperwork and waiting, and no support from the Afghan government. This leaves them in a very tough situation in Kabul, where the security situation is deteriorating every passing day, and the only chance of survival is having network and power. Since the deportees have very limited network who could help them find work or any other means of survival, they mostly rely on support from their friends in the countries they have been deported from.

Often, the support by the activists ends within few months of their return, because they are short term and doesn’t continue for too long. Therefore, there is very limited long term solution to the situation of the deportees. Like many other activists, AMASO has been among very few organizations that has direct contact with deportees and has been helping many for the past 6 years. We have helped a number of most vulnerable deportees with temporary accommodation, educational support, advice and counselling and other practical support.

This time, we want to use our platform to initiate this campaign and help those of the deportees who think they have a skill and need a platform. We hope we can bring their talent, skills to our followers, friends and activists to help the deportees. We also encourage all our friends and the friends of the Afghan refugees to take part in this initiative and help the deportees.

Mohammad Nabi Eskandari | Sweden

For the first of the many talents we will bring to you. The first person we want to Introduce is Mohammad Nabi Eskandari. Nabi was deported from Sweden to Afghanistan on 27 – Nov – 2019. Like many other recent deportees, Nabi has also never been to Afghanistan before. Nabi is currently living in and old house in the our skirts of the Kabul city along with two other deportees from Sweden. A group of activists from Sweden have been helping Nabi and his friends with their rent and food.

They have tried their level best to find their way in to the Afghan society, but since there has not been any support from the organizations or the Afghan government, re – integration has become a dream for him and many other deportees. AMASO has been in contact with Nabi since his deportation, and has been trying to help him in any way possible. Nabi is also a painter, he draws in his free time and wants to make a living to be able to get through this winter and buy warm clothes and blankets.

If you want to support him, you can buy one of his paintings. The paintings costs 1000 SEK (100 $) with the shipment if you are living abroad. If you are in Afghanistan, it costs 40 – 50 $.

You can contact AMASO via our WhatsApp button on our Facebook page or send us an email on amaso.org@gmail.com and we will help with the process.

Here is a latest story on the Guardian UK about the situation of those deported to Afghanistan. Nabi and his friends have also been interviewed.

Diaspora Support to Durable Solutions: Afghans in Europe

15-Nov-2019, Danish Architecture Center (DAC), Copenhagen 

Diaspora Support to Durable Solutions Conference hosted by the Danish Refugee Council to support the dissemination and discussion of the report “Afghan Diaspora in Europe: Mapping engagement in Denmark, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom” that brought together 93 participants from 11 European countries and Afghanistan. This conference consisted of two components.

The first component was about reviewing the contents of the Afghan Diaspora in Europe report and a presentation of the Afghan Government’s Diaspora Engagement Policy (draft). These two presentation complimented each other in providing an update on of the current situation, highlighting the importance of the diaspora both in Europe and in Afghanistan, and prompting discussion surrounding the future of diaspora engagement.

The second component of the conference consisted of four panel discussions on themes from the report, as: Successful Advocacy for the rights of Afghan refugees, Strengthening Diaspora engagement in relief and development activities, Improving national and European collaboration, and diaspora contributions to the Global Refugee Forum.

Panelists included leaders of Afghan Diaspora Organizations and Afghan Civil Society Organizations and Mr. Abdul Ghafoor, Director of Afghanistan Migrants Advice and Support Organization participated as representative of AMASO and Afghanistan Civil Society Organization in this conference. He was a panelist on the panel of “Successful Advocacy for the Rights of Afghan Refugees” . The panel discussed about dangers and challenges of Illegal Migration and the effects of transparency on asylum processes.

For unsuccessful cases, he mentioned that forced returns have increased dramatically since the Joint Way Forward Agreement was signed but that support is now limited to 12500 Afghanis per person. Although he acknowledged some financial support is better than no support, he also highlighted that many returns were first refugees in third countries or from different parts of Afghanistan with little or no social network in Kabul. Critically, he suggested that the social stigma resulting from failure to migrate often encourages immediate remigration.

At the end, specific recommendations about Strengthening Advocacy for Migrants (including Asylum Seekers) in Europe, Strengthening Diaspora Engagement in Relief and Development Activities in Afghanistan, Improving Diaspora Collaboration at the National and European level, Diaspora Contribution to the Global Refugee Forum, and Way Forward were presented by participants and panelists.

کنفرانس دیاسپورا برای راه حل پایدار: افغان ها در اروپا

دفتر مرکزی معماری دنمارک، کوپنهاگن

15 November 2019

کنفرانس دیاسپورا برای راه حل پایدار در اروپا، از طرف شورای مهاجرین دنمارک به منظور توزیع و بحث پیرامون گزارش « دیاسپورای افغان در اروپا: راهنمای مشارکت در دنمارک، آلمان، سویدن و انگلستان» با حضور 93 اشتراک کننده از 11 کشور اروپایی به شمول افغانستان دایر گردیده بود. محتوای کنفرانس به دو قسمت تقسیم می شد. بخش اول؛ مرتبط به بررسی محتویات گزارش دیاسپورای افغان در اروپا و ارائه مسوده پالیسی برای مشارکت دیاسپورا توسط افغانستان بود که این دو موضوع معلومات جدید را در رابطه به وضعیت عینی و راهکارهای موثر را برای آینده مشارکت دیاسپورای اراائه می نمود. بخش دوم؛ شامل چهار پنل گفتگو در مورد موضوعات گزارش که هر کدام؛ دادخواهی موفق از حقوق پناهندگان افغان، تقویت مشارکت دیاسپورا در فعالیت های بشردوستانه و انکشافی، پیشبرد همکاری های ملی و اروپایی و کمک های دیاسپورا به گردهمایی جهانی پناهندگان می گردید


اعضای پنل ها متشکل از رهبران سازمان های دیاسپورای افغان و سازمان های جامعه مدنی افغانستان بود که رئیس موسسه مشاوره و حمایت مهاجرین افغانستان؛ محترم عبدالغفور رفیعی به نمایندگی از موسسه و سازمان های جامعه مدنی افغانستان در کنفرانس فوق حضور داشتند و به عنوان یکی از اعضای پنل در بحث «دادخواهی موفق از حقوق پناهندگان افغان» در رابطه به آسیب ها و خطرات مهاجرت غیرقانونی و اثرات دادخواهی ها برای شفافیت در پروسه پناهندگی صحبت نموده اند

آقای عبدالغفورهمچنان به «موافقت نامه راه مشترک به جلو» اشاره نمودند که بعد از امضای موافقت نامه فوق، عودت های اجباری به افغانستان افزایش یافته و مشکلات پناهجویان را دو برابر ساخته است. از جمله اینکه مهاجرت از کشور سوم دلیلی بر عدم موجودیت شبکه ارتباطی در افغانستان برای عودت کنندگان می باشد و کمک های مالی اندک 12500 افغانی از طرف سازمان بین المللی مهاجرت کمکی چندانی به آنها نمی کند و در کنار این مشکلات؛ شرم و سرزنش از طرف خانواده، عودت کنندگان را مجبور به مهاجرت دوباره می نماید


در اخیر پیشنهادات مشخص در رابطه به موضوعات: تقویت دادخواهی برای مهاجران (به شمول پناهجویان) در اروپا، تقویت مشارکت دیاسپورا در فعالیت های بشردوستانه و انکشافی در افغانستان، بهبود همکاری دیاسپورا در سطح ملی و اروپایی، نقش دیاسپورا در حمایت از گردهمایی جهانی پناهندگان و راه پیش رو از طرف اشتراک کنندگان و اعضای پنل ارایه گردید

Statement – Geneva conference on Afghanistan

The world is once again gathering for a Donors’ Convention on Afghanistan on 23 – 24 November, this time in Geneva, Switzerland. The participants and donors will make promises to continue supporting the Afghan government, and, as usual, they will make a series of demands of demands on the Afghan government in exchange for that support. In 2016, at the last donors’ conference in Brussels, a key demand was that the Afghan government sign the Joint Way Forward[1], an agreement to facilitate forced removals to Afghanistan and to prevent further migration from Afghanistan. We are extremely concerned that this hugely problematic agreement will be renewed. there will be anything discussed about the situation of Afghan refugees in Europe.

Less than a week before the conference, rockets have rained down on Kabul[2], three weeks before an attack on Kabul University killed 35 people[3]. Terror, and the challenges of surviving existentially is driving Afghans out of the country. For many families, the knowledge that their younger members are safely away is their only comfort and source of hope.

The JWF agreement imposed on the Afghan government was an immoral and incompetent step away from the principles of the original Geneva Agreement signed almost 70 years ago, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which between them guaranteed the right to seek and to enjoy asylum, to not be refouled to countries where one’s life and liberty were in danger.

Therefore, we request the European countries and donors of the Geneva Convention to have the current and ongoing situation in Afghanistan in mind and to abandon the Joint Way Forward agreement and instead concentrate on the creation of safe, legal routes for in need of protection.

Afghanistan Migrants Advice and Support Organization

23rd November 2020


[1] This was denied by the EU High Representative, but it has been comprehensively demonstrated by journalists and scholars that the funding was dependent on signing the Agreement. It was signed the night before the conference after phone calls from the British and German heads of government.

[2] https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/world/rocket-attack-on-kabul-kills-eight/ar-BB1bdSga

[3] https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN27J178

Workshop on Afghan migration & deportation

On 14th of November 2020, we successfully organized our first workshop on Afghan migration and deportation to Afghanistan. The aim of this workshop was to create awareness among the Afghan people about the situation of Afghan refugee in Europe, the journey they go through and the dangers they face during and after the flight. We then talked about European laws and defined the term Refugee in light of the 1951 convention and its 1967 protocol and the situation of those who are deported from various European countries to Afghanistan.

Participants of the workshop included university students, researchers, deportees and those interested in the issue of migration. The level of participation and enthusiasm was encouraging. Participants had a positive feedback to the workshop and shared their comments and suggestions by the end of the workshop. Participants were mainly interested on the current migration regime in Europe and legal ways of migration.

Monitoring officer of AMASO, Ms Zahra Rezaie started the workshop with the introduction of AMASO and explained our activities. She then explained the outline of the workshop and stated why organizing a workshop at this point of time was necessary.

Director of AMASO went on next and explained why an asylum seeker is deported to Afghanistan? To make sure everybody knew exactly how to treat if someone is deported. He emphasized, all of those deported to Afghanistan are neither criminals, nor have they done something wrong. In an Afghan context, those who have been deported should/may have done something wrong, that is why they have been deported to Afghanistan.

Those deported are often asked’ why did you cousin, friend or relative got asylum and you are deported. You may have done something wrong that is why you have been deported.

Director of AMASO explained the laws and encouraged the participants to understand the terminology and then pass the information to their families and members of the society. Deportees already go through too many hardships and tough times, they shouldn’t be stigmatized any more than that.

Peace of Mind Afghanistan

Peace of Mind Afghanistan was also kind enough to join our workshop and talk about the mental stress refugees go through and the stigma deportees face once they are deported to Afghanistan. AMASO and PoMA has a long term support experience and have shared ideas and cases of deportees previously, and hopefully in the future, whenever needed.

Ms. Lyla Schwartz the director of Peace of Mind Afghanistan held a session and explained the work PoMA is doing in Afghanistan. Ms. Lyla shortly shared some of her experience working with refugees in Greece and Switzerland. She also shared her personal experience of the impact hopelessness, uncertainty can have on the lives of refugees waiting for their asylum cases to be reviewed.

During the session, Lyla also agreed to have a joint weekly/monthly session for deportees in need with cooperation of AMASO. The participants at the workshop welcomed the idea and showed their full support to implement it. Some of the participants shared their own personal experience after deportation. 1 of the participants said’ despite one year of his deportation, he is still in stress and suffers from anxiety. Another participant, also deportees said; one of his roommates, who was deported along with him attempted to commit suicide several times. He said; he doesn’t know where his roommate is at the moment.

Team work, energizer and refreshment

To make sure the workshop wasn’t boring for the participants. We made team work, energizer game and refreshment part of the workshop. For the team work and game, our aim was not only to provide and energizer, but to encourage working in teams and collecting ideas on causes of Afghan migration and better ideas and ways of helping those deported.

After the team work, one person from each team explained their teams’ point of view and suggestion on how to make sure Afghan refugees and deportees are treated fairly.

Feedback forms

By the end of the workshop, we distributed feedback forms to all of the participants to collect their suggestions. Most of the feedbacks were optimistic and some of the suggestions were on organizing more workshops and giving more time to each of the sessions .