Unhappiness in Foreign Land; Afghan Refugees Are Dissatisfied with The Situation

June 20 coincides with the World Refugee Day. According to statistics, 6.9 million Afghans are currently living abroad as refugees. Most of these refugees live in Iran, Pakistan, Europe, Turkey and India. According to officials at the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations, the government, in cooperation with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, has assisted 75,000 Afghan refugee families in Pakistan in addressing economic problems stemming from the coronavirus restrictions. Pakistan, however, states that the assistance was provided by the government in cooperation with the organization. However, Afghan officials do not mention helping other refugees in other countries. Afghan refugees in India and Turkey are extremely dissatisfied with their situation and say that the indifference of the authorities and the government has exacerbated their problems. According to Afghan civil society activists based in India and Turkey, the governments of the two countries do not treat immigrants properly, and pro-immigrant organizations also approve or reject their case in return for “illegitimate requests.” Earlier, Afghan migrants in India had complained about their situation, the issue of heavy fines and the treatment of the Afghan embassy in that country.

June 20 is celebrated around the world in support for displaced persons and refugees. With the outbreak of the coronavirus in some countries, the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations says it has taken action to meet the needs of Afghan refugees. The government, in co-operation with the UNHCR, has assisted 75,000 families in Pakistani refugee camps, giving each family about 12,000 Pakistani rupees, said Islamuddin Jurrat, spokesperson for the organization, on Tuesday. He attributed the aid to economic problems stemming from coronavirus restrictions. Officials, however, did not comment on other Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) facing problems in 75 countries, including Iran and India. Ministry officials speak of helping refugees in Pakistan, according to the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, as part of the “Ehsas” program and in cooperation with UNHCR to a number of Afghan families.

Refugee Complaints in India: We are in a predicament

In an interview with 8 Subh, some Afghan refugees in a number of countries say that they are living in misery and isolation due to the incompetence of the authorities and the government having no action plan for them. Nisar Ahmad Sherzai, an Afghan political-civil activist in India and an refugee, told 8 Subh that 25,000 to 30,000 Afghan refugees now live in India who have fled the country for reasons such as insecurity. According to him, some of these immigrants have received immigration cards, but have been waiting for years to be transferred to a third country because India has not signed the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Sherzai added that despite the fact that the immigration cases of these immigrants have not been investigated for about 10 years, their cards are renewed every six months.

He added that about 1,500 cases had been closed but the claimants could not return to Afghanistan due to problems. He added that although the UN had provided documents to some of the immigrants, the documents were not valid with the Indian police. Thus, the stay of such immigrants is considered “illegal” for the Indian government, and these immigrants must pay a fine upon their return. The fine is currently around 50,000 Afghanis, and in most cases, immigrants eventually pay heavy fines in the hope that their case will be accepted. Although the UNHCR is responsible for transparency, according to Nisar Ahmad Sherzai, such an action is not done due to “negligence”.

Sherzai added that although Afghan immigrants in India have tried in various ways to bring their problems to the attention of the world, their efforts have not worked so far. He said that this number of Afghan refugees in India do not have the right to study and work and do not receive any assistance. Nisar Ahmad Sherzai added that even UNHCR has in some cases warned protesters against the cancellation of their cases, which is why two Afghan refugees died due to suicide last year. Unlike Afghans, he said, immigrants from other countries enjoy all the benefits of immigration. Nisar Ahmad Sherzai described the situation of about 60 Afghan refugees in Nepal in the same way.

By diplomatic standards, he said, an immigration employee should not work in an office for more than three years, but a number of these employees have remained in those positions for 10 years. Sherzai added that Afghan passports have now been issued to Afghans, and that even former immigrants, despite having a UNHCR card, are currently unable to obtain visas from the Indian government without a passport, forcing them to pay fines. Afghan refugees are currently living in fear and worry about their future, he said. Afghan refugees in India are set to protest today in front of the UNHCR Office.

Afghan refugees in Turkey: The situation is dire

In addition to Afghan refugees in India, some Afghan civil activists in Turkey are also complaining about the situation of refugees in that country. Zuhra Najafizada, an Afghan civil activist living in Turkey, told 8 Subh on Saturday that the situation of Afghan refugees in all Turkish cities was “dire”. According to her, the immigrants have so many problems that in some cases they die due to suicide, steal and in some cases, they resort to domestic violence. He attributed the problems to poverty, misery, displacement and neglect by the Turkish government. According to Najafizada, immigration organizations and departments no longer accept immigrants, and all of them are currently in a state of ambiguity.

Zuhra Najafizada said the treatment of Turkish government officials with immigrants was “ugly” and “incorrect”. According to her, even immigrants who are currently living legally in Turkey are complaining about Turkish government offices. The Afghan civil activist based in India said that Afghan refugees do not have accommodation and health insurance and face problems if they become ill because hospitals refuse to admit patients without a residence permit and passport, and only a few hospitals are willing to admit them for large sums of money.

Najafizada added that there had been complaints in the past that the United Nations had made “illegitimate demands” from immigrants. According to her, in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, the health status of immigrants is not considered at the moment. Najafizada states that some immigrants complained that their children could not study because the UN and the Immigration Service do not accept them. This civil activist described the situation as “difficult” and “distressing”.

According to statistics, currently 6.9 million Afghans live in 75 countries around the world under the conditions of asylum, refuge and migration. Of these, three million immigrants live in Iran, 2.5 million in Pakistan, 769,000 in Europe, 200,000 in Turkey, 18,000 in Greece and 7,738 in Indonesia. Among the immigrants in Pakistan alone, about 800,000 live without documents and are not provided with important services. Statistics also show that 68% of Afghans in Pakistan do hard labor. It should be noted that with the escalation of violence in the country, the number of Afghan refugees is likely to increase significantly.