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When the Afghan refugee's only road leads back home

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When the Afghan refugee's only road leads back home

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Sophie Claudet, euronews:

“The number of Afghan asylum seekers quadrupled in 2015 compared to the year before and we know that violence is on the rise in the country, so should we not be expecting a surge of Afghans trying to get to Europe in the coming months, or coming years?”

Director of International Operations, Medicins du Monde, Jean-Francois Corty:

“What we do know is that there are several factors that will continue to push Afghans out of several regions, because of resumed fighting. Several provinces or districts have been retaken by the Taliban recently, and there has been an upswing in assassinations and bombings with heavy loss of life. So instability is on the increase while the international community insists there is no longer a war situation in Afghanistan.

There are also other places where there is heavy pressure on the Afghans, I think notably about certain tribal zones in Pakistan where hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees are trying to survive in a highly unstable area.

There are also hundreds of thousands, maybe a million Afghan refugees in Iran, and we know many of them are recent arrivals fleeing the surge in violence. We also know these families, also arriving in Turkey and Greece, are coming because they, especially their men, have been put under pressure from the Iranians to go and fight for them in Syria against ISIL.

So this means the Afghans are coming under strain from a number of directions, and we should expect them to want to leave places where they are stigmatised and in danger. This trauma will continue as long as there’s fighting.”

UN International Organisation for Migration Regional Director Eugenio Ambrosi:

“It’s hard to offer any hard numbers, but we know this is going to be a question, a problem for Europe that is going to continue, and it is only going to get bigger, much bigger, especially if the instability in the affected countries continues.”

euronews:

“Afghans are absolutely at the bottom of the list when it comes to Europe’s granting asylum applications. Is Europe going to change this policy because fighting has returned to Afghanistan?”

Jean-Francois Corty:

“Today what needs to be discussed and questioned is
the idea of returning people to Afghanistan voluntarily in the right conditions. This is what Europe wants, and is promoting. But this idea of voluntary return is a nonsense, because today there are many Afghans living in terrible conditions, in camps or refugee hotspots in Greece, who have been there for months with their children, who have no future. In these conditions they see no other choice than to go home because they have no future where they are.

Europe must increase its capacity to protect these Afghans.”

euronews:

“Mr Ambrosi, about those voluntary repatriations, in Greece the International Organisation for Migration is handling the repatriations, and we met some families in our report who had chosen this option, so how would you like to respond to Mr Corty? Are these repatriations really voluntary?”

Eugenio Ambrosi:

“I agree that Europe has a responsibility to expand its protection of Afghans, and for other nationalities that, for the moment, are not considered a priority. It is clear that there is differential treatment, that Syrian asylum seekers get a different hearing to Eritreans, Afghans, or other countries.

The reality is there are people who are coming to us asking for help to go back home. Voluntary returns have be done carefully, we don’t just send people anywhere in Afghanistan, We take into account security threats or any other risks very seriously.

But nonetheless there are many situations where the Afghan refugee will decide to abandon the process of migrating to Europe.”

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