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

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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

 

Director of AMASO’s interview with Parisglobalist about the situation of Afghan returnees

 

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AFGHANS – EUROPE’S FORGOTTEN REFUGEES

ADVOCATING FOR AFGHANS

In 2014, due to the increasing number of Afghan returnees, the Afghanistan Migrants Advice and Support Organization (AMASO) was established. The organization documents the stories of Afghans who were forced to go back to Afghanistan and advocates for their right to stay in safety in Europe and Australia. The organization also provides support and counseling for recent returnees in Afghanistan. 

For Abdul Ghafoor, the organization’s director, Afghanistan is still a war-torn country fighting many insurgent groups (such as the Taliban, Hizb-e-Islami, ISIS). In fact, the security situation has deteriorated quickly. It is now far more dangerous in the country than during the NATO invasion in 2001. 

“More and more, provinces are falling into the hands of the Taliban and ISIS, and the government is losing ground,” he explains in an email. “The capital of Afghanistan, Kabul, has turned into one of the most dangerous provinces of Afghanistan, where people lose their lives on a daily and weekly basis. Minorities are at great risk after ISIS gained ground in the country. The recent attacks on the Shiite mosques in the west of Kabul are an indication of that.”

People fear dying in suicide attacks on a daily basis. The national economy is crumbling under the pressure of war and violence: Investors are not interested in a country where no one can live safely. Meanwhile, according to Ghafoor, regional powers still consider Afghanistan a battleground, with Russia and Iran becoming increasingly involved in the country’s affairs since the rise of ISIS. 

In addition to these common hardships, returnees face unique adversities back home. According to the current President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, Afghans who flee deserve no sympathy. (Of course, rampant corruption within his own government may have exacerbated the dire conditions that forced many Afghans to leave.) An agreement with the EU concluded in October 2016, which supports the deportation of Afghans, has not succeeded in convincing Afghans to remain in the country. A 2017 survey by the nonprofit Asia Foundation finds that 38.8 percent of Afghans would leave the country if they were given the opportunity. Many consider the government to be completely inept at providing security and stability for the general population. The President’s recent appointment of the infamous warlord Gul Agha Shirzai as Minister of Border and Tribal Affairs was seen as yet greater proof of the government’s disrespect for its own people. 

For Ghafoor, the European Union’s strategy of targeting Afghan refugees as a way to dissuade them from seeking asylum is yet another illustration of the Afghan government’s weakness and corruption. It is important to note, however, that not all countries conduct demographically balanced deportations. Germany, for example, deports mainly adults, while Sweden and Norway — traditionally welcoming countries — are increasingly accelerating the deportations of 18-year-olds and possible minors who are unable to pass the age assessment test. The situation is thus quite bleak as entire families face the risk of deportation.

Another problem posed by the deportations is the amount of Afghans who already live as refugees in Iran or Pakistan. In those bordering countries, the local populations have become increasingly hostile to their presence. These refugees, too, are being sent back to Afghanistan and are, according to Ghafoor, the most vulnerable group.

“With no network and no source of income, it is almost impossible to survive,” he argues. “As a result, the majority of those deported leave the country as soon as they can and return back to Iran, Turkey and further on.”

Afghans who are deported, in accordance with the EU’s agreement with Ghani’s government, are supposed to receive two weeks of accommodation and financial assistance through packages. But obtaining aid is difficult. 

“The packages need to be obtained through a very tricky process with a lot of document submissions,” Ghafoor says. “Some [returnees] get tired and even quit [receiving the packages] because it is a lot of paperwork, and without a network it is impossible to meet those requirements.” 

Many returnees do not have any family members remaining in Afghanistan and the provinces from which their families originally came can be hard to access due to ongoing fighting. Without access to these packages or any other kind of financial assistance, the returnees cannot afford to feed themselves or their families.

The returnees therefore stop being refugees and instead become internally displaced persons, with almost no prospect of employment. If the EU and the Afghan government think this is the way to inspire young Afghans to fight for their country against insurgent groups, Ghafoor firmly disagrees. 

“Hardly any returnees stay in the country, so I don’t think they can make any difference but [instead] turn into a burden,” he maintains.

For Ghafoor, the best way to combat this problem is to inform Europeans on a daily basis of the tragedies experienced by the Afghan people. Awareness-raising campaigns and a change of policy which includes Afghans in the EU relocation scheme could prove very useful and keep thousands of people from being deported back to Afghanistan. It is time for Europe to take its share of responsibility for the situation in Afghanistan and welcome the refugees of a war European powers helped to create. ♦

Full article can be found on the Parisglobalist website : http://www.parisglobalist.org/afghans-europes-forgotten-refugees/?fbclid=IwAR1PHNvHrAeM0DCRAVmd1nSxVS5OlZhyC7AYIu2SzvoflwrHgL7w0wuhQiw

Sikh family returned to shrinking frightened community!

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The Singh brothers deported from the Netherlands

Numerous messages sent by activists in the Netherlands informed AMASO about the return of a Sikh Afghan family from the Netherlands back to Afghanistan on 9th of October. Later that day, the family was deported back to Afghanistan after staying almost 2,5 years in the Netherlands. This is probably the only case AMASO has been directly involved in where a family from one of the most vulnerable minorities in Afghanistan has been sent back.

This deportation is wrong specifically for this family because of the particular risks to the Sikh and Hindu minorities, but also because of the deterioration in the general security situation in Kabul and the rest of the country.  The Taliban has gained more ground than ever and ISIS is targeting people belonging to sects other than their own, as well as other religions.

The family visited AMASO 3 days after their arrival in Afghanistan. Probably this was the first time they had come out of the temple since their return to Afghanistan. They family is frightened and doesn’t understand what their future will be in Afghanistan. According to Ehsan Shayegan, an Afghan researcher with Porsesh Research and Studies Organization studying the minority religions of Kabul giving interview to Aljazeera for its recent article The Decline of Afghanistan’s Hindu and Sikh Communities  by Ruchi Kumar.

“If you go through the evidence and data from the 1970s to date, you will be able to see how drastically their population has fallen…In the 70s, there were around 700,000 Hindus and Sikhs, and now they are estimated to be less than 7,000,” Shayegan says.

In another part of the article a Sikh interviewee complains about the return of the warlords and the land grabbing: “Persecution started again, and several big and small warlords forcefully took away lands belonging to the Hindu and Sikh minorities”.

This is the exact situation that forced the family we met to flee the country. Their home in Kabul was grabbed by a warlord and they were forced to leave the area. They then stayed with a Muslim family because they had nowhere to live. The warlord and his men found them even there and warned them to leave the area or they would be killed.

The family that had hosted them said they would have to find somewhere else because they did not want to get caught in the conflict. The family fled the country and headed to Europe to ask for protection. Instead they were forcibly sent back to a country they would have a tough time to survive because the Dutch authorities made errors of judgement in their case (as they have in other recent cases).

The family is currently at the only temple in Kabul and will stay there until they have a safe option to leave the country again.

Afghan returnees and their painful stories …

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AMASO visited the hotel where the returnees are staying and met and interviewed at least 3 of those deported from Austria on 13 of Oct this year.
Hussain, one of the returnees from Austria was taken out of a hospital and brought straight to the airport to be returned back to Afghanistan. According to Hussain, He was unconscious throughout the journey and only knew he was deported when he woke up in Afghanistan. Hussain says” he has been bleeding many times since he has been returned to Afghanistan. His next appointment with the doctor was on 22nd of October.
 
Hussain had an operation on his left kidney and is suffering from severe pain now. His right kidney is also infected and needs to be operated. With no medical support and a place to stay, he is worried what will happen to him once he is out of the hotel, after few days.
Hussain’s both kidney’s are badly infected and needs urgent medical care. Hussain had his operation on his left kidney few months ago and was recovering from it, when one day the police entered his apartment, handcuffed him and brought him to a hospital. He had pipes installed from the previous operation for him to recover fast. In the hospital, they took the pipe out in a hurry and handed over Hussain to the policemen, who were guarding him through out the process.
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Shinwari (left) and Safi (right) are two of the other returnees that have been deported along with 9 others from Austria. Shinwari has lived in Austria for 2 and half years. Shinwari’s brother was also present at the hotel when we met Shinwari. He has come to Kabul to meet his brother.
 
Shinwari’s brother however wasn’t there to receive Shinwari. Instead, he was there to tell him not to return back home, because of the fear of Taliban and ISIS. He fears Shinwari can be easily targeted knowing that he has returned back from Europe and can be labelled as a spy or infidel. According to Shinwari’s brother; the area they are living is in control of Taliban and ISIS, therefore it is not a good idea for his brother to return home now. 
Life threat is however not the only tension Shinwari has. He also fears he may have to pay back to those from whom he had borrowed money to get to Europe. Shinwari had borrowed a large sum of money to get out of Afghanistan, now that he as been deported, he doesn’t know how to give that money back. We keep hearing the same question from Shinwari through out the meeting, many times.
” I can not return back home, what will happen to me after i am out of the hotel, what should i do, where should i go, i have no one in Kabul” 
Safi (right) has been deported back to Afghanistan after almost 9 years. Safi said; everything was ok and there was no fear of deportation until the Afghan government made a deal with the EU in 2015 and suddenly everything was changed for Afghans. Now that i have been deported, i have not been to my family yet.
” I don’t know how to go home and tell them that i have been deported back to Afghanistan after 9 years, i am currently staying with my cousin and don’t know how long would i stay with him, and that would i actually be able to return to my parents at or not?, i am so lost” , said Safi