Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public

Stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak, available on the WHO website and through your national and local public health authority. Most people who become infected experience mild illness and recover, but it can be more severe for others. Take care of your health and protect others by doing the following:

Wash your hands frequently

Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.

Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.

Maintain social distancing

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.

Practice respiratory hygiene

Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.

Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.

If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.

Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.

Stay informed and follow advice given by your healthcare provider

Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area. They are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.

 

Protection measures for persons who are in or have recently visited (past 14 days) areas where COVID-19 is spreading

  • Follow the guidance outlined above.
  • Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover. Why? Avoiding contact with others and visits to medical facilities will allow these facilities to operate more effectively and help protect you and others from possible COVID-19 and other viruses.
  • If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Call in advance and tell your provider of any recent travel or contact with travelers. Why? Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also help to prevent possible spread of COVID-19 and other viruses.

For more up to date information, please follow the WHO main page here: World Health Organization

On the Return of Hazaras to Afghanistan: An expert report by Professor William Maley

Professor William Maley is a professor of Professor of Diplomacy at the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy at The Australian National University. I have published extensively on Afghan politics for over three decades, and am author of Rescuing Afghanistan (London: Hurst & Co., 2006); The Afghanistan Wars (London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002, 2009); What is a Refugee? (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016); and Transition in Afghanistan: Hope, Despair and the Limits of Statebuilding (New York: Routledge, 2018). I have also written studies of The Foreign Policy of the Taliban (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 2000) and Transitioning from military interventions to long-term counter-terrorism policy: The case of Afghanistan (2001-2016) (The Hague: The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, 2016); co-authored Regime Change in Afghanistan: Foreign Intervention and the Politics of Legitimacy (Boulder: Westview Press, 1991); Political Order in Post-Communist Afghanistan (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1992); and Afghanistan: Politics and Economics in a Globalising State (London: Routledge, 2020); edited Fundamentalism Reborn? Afghanistan and the Taliban (New York: New York University Press, 1998, 2001); and co-edited The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989); Reconstructing Afghanistan: Civil-military experiences in comparative perspective (New York: Routledge, 2015); and
Afghanistan – Challenges and Prospects (New York: Routledge, 2018), I authored the entry on Hazaras in John L. Esposito (ed.), The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009) Vol.II, pp.385- 386. I visited Afghanistan most recently in October 2019.

One of the latest incidents that occurred two days after the report was published and hasn’t found it way on Professor Maley’s expert report is the attack carried out by ISIS targeting civilians attending the martyrdom anniversary of Abdul Ali Mazara, the late Hazara leader who was assassinated by Taliban in 1995 ( Dozens killed in Kabul ceremony attack claimed by ISIL. Aljazeera English, 20 March 2020). The number of casualty later jumped to 33 killed and around 90 injured.

The expert report can be accessed here: Maley-Hazaras-4.3.20

 

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.