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The crisis of Afghan migrants in Europe and neighboring countries

Published Date: March 6, 2016

The European countries have tightened border control, which most of all impacts Afghan migrants. The European countries have distinguished the migrants and thus they have prioritized the Iraqi and Syrian migrants over Afghan migrants to cross European borders. Therefore, on 24 February 2016, 135 Afghans voluntarily repatriated from Germany to Afghanistan[1], and according to the Afghan embassy in Germany, around 1000 other Afghan migrants have requested to be returned home. They are the people whose asylum applications have been rejected by the German government.

According to the “Los Angeles times”, a famous American newspaper, one third of the migrants in Europe are Afghans. And due to the tight border control, at least 5000 Afghans are stuck at Greece-Macedonia border.

On the other hand, according to an agreement with the Afghan government, Pakistan was supposed to register those Afghan migrants who are not registered yet and extend the expiration date of the migration IDs of those Afghan migrants who are already registered, which is not done yet.

The migration phases of the Afghans to the European countries, the current position of the Afghan government about migrants, the condition of the Afghan migrants in Europe and neighboring countries and their future challenges are the issues we have tried to analyze here.

Migration to the industrialized countries

Afghans have a long history of migration and the Aryan migrations is the proof of it, But in the “modern history”, Afghan migration to the industrialized[2] and neighborhood countries began after the communist coup d’état on 27 April 1978 (7 Sour 1357) and after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

In 1982, there were 2022 Afghan migrants in the industrialized countries, but by the end of 1989 this number rose to 6553 Afghans.

After the withdrawal of the Soviet forces from Afghanistan, the country became exhausted by civil war and the country’s economy was also destroyed; therefore, migration to the industrialized countries increased. From withdrawal of the Soviet forces from Afghanistan until 2001 the number of the Afghan migrants increased to 54620. It should be mentioned that these numbers show that the Afghans who were not granted the citizenship of the host countries and were only counted as migrants. In this phase a great number of Afghans immigrated to the European countries because of economic and political problems in their own country and most of them gained the citizenship of these countries.

After the US attack on Afghanistan in 2001, once again the Afghan migrants to the industrialized countries increased and in 2002 their number rose to 152466. But from 2002 this number began to decrease and became 104559 Afghan migrants in 2007. Since 2008, due to the economic and political reasons the number of Afghan migrants in the industrialized countries is increasing annually; only in 2015 an amount of 250000 Afghans have claimed asylum in these countries.

Afghan Refugees in neighboring countries

The Afghan migration to the neighboring countries also began after the “Sour coup d’état” and with the soviet invasion of Afghanistan it reached to its climax and After the Geneva agreement in 1988 the Afghan migrants began to repatriate.

During the “Civil War”, a great portion of Afghans migrated to Pakistan, but they returned home soon after 2001 and until now 5.8 million Afghan refugees have returned home from the neighboring countries and there are more than 5 million Afghan migrants still in the neighboring countries.

In 2015, Pakistan and Iran agreed that they would not force the Afghan migrants to return home. And both these countries had agreed to register those Afghan migrants who are not registered yet; but the Afghan migrants are still not registered in these countries and in Pakistan the date of their migration IDs are not extended (contrary to the agreement).

The significances of the migration issue

According to unofficial statistics, there are 5.5 million Afghan migrants in the neighboring countries which include 1.4 million registered and 2 million unregistered migrants in Pakistan and one million registered and two million unregistered Afghan migrants in Iran. In the Industrial countries there are tens of thousands of Afghan migrants and a total of 250 thousands more have newly arrived Europe in 2015.

Besides that, there are also around one million internal displaced persons and thousands of Wasirestani refugees inside the country. Afghan migrants all together form one fifth of all the population in Afghanistan. Therefore, due to its human, legal, political, security and economic aspects the migration is of a great importance to the Afghan government along with the issues of peace and security in the country.

Afghan migrants toward Europe in 2015

According to the statistics of the “International Organization for Migration” from January 2015 to 27 January 2016, a number of around 1.103496 million people have arrived to Europe by land and see routes and after the Syrians, Afghans are the second outnumbered migrant nation. [3]

Based on the statistics of the European Union, 942400 people have claimed asylums in European countries. [4] On the other hand, the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations said:” in 2015, more than 250000 Afghans claimed asylums in 44 different European countries, 150000 of which were in Germany.”

If one studies the number of the Afghan emigrants who arrive to Europe by illegal ways, one will find out that this number has unprecedentedly increased. According to a study conducted by European Union, around 26215 Afghans had claimed asylums in various European countries in 2013, in 2014 this number was 41370 and in 2015 it rose to 250000.

These migrants have met a lot of difficulties on their way to Europe and this journey to Europe has taken the lives of some of them. More than 4000 people were drowned trying to cross Mediterranean See on their way to Europe, and according to the spokesman of the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations, 20% of the drowned people were Afghans (800 Afghans).

In 2015, due to the deteriorated security situation hundred thousands of migrants from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Northern and central African countries arrived to Europe and thus the “migration crisis” began in Europe. Therefore the European countries have tried to forcefully expel the economic migrants.

Some European countries such as Germany count the Afghan refugees as the economic migrants. Therefore the German Chancellor Angela Merkel had said that they have started “serious talks” with the Afghan government about the repatriation of the Afghan refugees whose asylum applications were rejected by the German government. [5]

German Interior Minister Thomas De Maiziere in his visit to Kabul said that he has come to an agreement with the Afghan government about the repatriation of those Afghan refugees whose asylums applications were rejected in Germany. He also said that the Afghan migrants are not counted as refugees because the situation in Afghanistan is relatively better and there are safe places in Afghanistan.

The Afghan governments position about the refugees

The Afghan government’s official position about the Afghan migrants in the neighboring countries consist of the registration of the Afghan migrants and extending the expiration date of the migration IDs of the Afghan migrants who are already registered so that they do not experience the bad behavior of police in these countries.

However the neighboring countries have agreed to this policy of the Afghan government but they have not taken necessary measures to implement it and in this regard the Afghan migrants are facing major problems. For example the Pakistani police arrested 1100 people accused of terrorism, 600 of which were Afghans.

On the other hand, the Afghan migrants who are not registered and do not possess legal migrant documents face a lot of obstacles in the neighborhood countries. With the registration of the migrants most of the migrants’ obstacles in the areas of education, employment, and healthcare are being overcome.

But in this regard the Afghan government has had contradictory positions as the position of the presidential office is far different than that of the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations.

” host country should understand the current situation in Afghanistan and based on individual cases of Afghan migrants, should grant asylum to Afghan migrants. We have not signed any agreement about the forceful deportation of the Afghan migrants, and only the volunteered return the Afghan migrants were the subject of our talks with other countries.” [6]

Any agreement about the forceful deportation of the Afghan migrant will add to the problems of the Afghan government because the arrival of every Afghan to the European countries costs an estimated 5 to 8 thousand American dollars (in this regard Afghans have spent $1.25 to $2 billion only in 2015).

Therefore the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations has declared the policy of not signing any agreement about the forceful deportation of Afghans [7] and had also stated that in the five following cases, the forceful deportation will be unacceptable to the Afghan government:

First: children under 18;

Second: handicapped individuals;

Third: the families whose head was granted asylum in the host country earlier;

Fourth: the families whose heads are women;

Fifth: the families without a caretaker.

[1] For further information read the Afghan MoRR’s report

http://morr.gov.af/fa/news/59580

[2]  European Union, Australia, Japan, United Kingdom, and the United States of America are among the industrialized countries.

[3]  For further information read the IOM’s report:

http://www.iom.int/sites/default/files/situation_reports/file/europe-mediterranean-migration-crisis-response-situation-report-28-january-2016.pdf

[4]Read the report of BBC here:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34131911

[5]  read more here:

https://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/22065-berlin-kabul-start-talks-on-repatriation-of-afghans-merkel

[6] see online: http://www.dw.com/en/afghanistans-minister-of-refugees-no-agreement-on-taking-back-deportees-from-germany/a-19020715

[7] See online: http://www.etilaatroz.com/33616

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