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.