FAROE Letters UNHCR Refugee Day 2023

To:

Mr. Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Case Postale 2500
CH-1211 Genève 2 Dépôt
Suisse

The Hague, 19/June/2023

Subject: International Refugee Day 2023 and the situation of Afghan Refugees

Dear Sir,

This year, the World Refugee Day focuses on the power of inclusion and solutions for refugees. The tagline of this day as it is determined by the UNHCR is:  “Hope away from Home. A world where refugees are always included”.

The subject of your focus points for 2023 is on itself fine humane and appraisable but unfortunately  a big part of refugees in the World are too far from realization of the  “hope away from home” . Because conflict, political and social upheaval, economic hardships and food insecurity has fuelled the big increase of internal and external displacement of suffering people. According to UNHCR publications, from every 74 persons in the World, 1 of them is refugee. This means the alarming number of more than 1% refugees Worldwide. We believe the Security Council of the United Nations  should do more to prevent wars and conflicts, work for more development aid for underdeveloped countries and better distribution of wealth in the World. 
Only a small number of asylum seekers can afford to reach themselves beyond the external borders of EU. Still EU authorities find that the number of 92000 asylum applications  in the first 3 months of 2023, a major increase in number of applicatants for international protection in the EU+. This number was the reason of great concern for authorities of EU+ and initiation of drastic measures by EU and its Member States.  The new EU accord will contain more preventive measures. When Europe, as the cradle of contemporary civilization, the birthplace of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a major player in the designation and approval of the 1951 Geneva Convention for Refugees, continues with systematic building up of physical and legal fence around itself to prevent the increase of the number of asylum applications and relies on the policy of keeping asylum seekers in their own region, breach of the principles of UN convention for Refugees,  becomes a normality for individual States.  The shipwreck incident on June 14, 2023 in international waters near Greece,  that has probably claimed hundreds of lives, is an example of the current disinterest in lives of hundreds of refugees as Greece’s navel border post rejected the help request by the refugees sitting in the sinking boat. Is this acceptable under Human Rights principles?

Due to 45 years of military interventions and proxy wars supported by super powers in Afghanistan, this country has the biggest refugee population in the region.  The authorities of the neighboring countries, namely Pakistan and Iran has been involved in fueling  the conflict, but they treat Afghan refugees in cruel and inhuman manner.  Iran deports thousands of Afghan asylum seekers every day back to Afghanistan. Iranian authorities forbids the owners of businesses from  recruitment of Afghan migrants. Pakistani authorities have rounded up and imprisoned thousands of Afghan refugees entering this country after Taliban takeover  and have accused them of overstaying their visas or lacking adequate documentation. Many of them been,  after many months of detention,  deported to Taliban controlled Afghanistan where they are at risk of torture and mistreatment. More then 1000 Afghans are currently imprisoned and at least three have died in custody after being imprisoned for many months. Even the families waiting for the promised evacuation by NATO member States, are among those arrested by the Pakistani government after rejection of their  request for visa extension by the same authorities.  Many families contact FAROE member organizations to say that they feel themselves not save within house nor on the streets of Pakistan and Iran. Valid visa has been in many instances not enough for Afghans to stay in Pakistan. Munizha Kakar, a Karachi-based human rights lawyer, said to Guardian that nearly 400 of the arrested Afghans had valid visas on their passports or proof-of-residence cards, which they said were confiscated by police before they were jailed. This is systematic abuse of the rights of Afghans going for a short stay to Pakistan, to arrange their evacuation papers or medical treatment.

From 1996 to March 2002, when the Taliban held power in Afghanistan, this country was recognized as unsafe country by EU member States. Taliban have preserved their suppressive ideology and the policy of subjugation of  the population and official discrimination against women. But the EU member States are not ready to recognize Afghanistan again as unsafe country. 

Including of refugees in the communities where they have found safety after fleeing conflict and persecution” is, as mentioned in your website, the most effective way to support them in restarting their lives and enable them to contribute to the countries hosting them. While Afghan refugees in Europe are open to be included,  the member States of the EU does not facilitate this properly. The facilitation of inclusion of Afghan refugees, even for the evacuated ones, in the member States of European Union, the USA and Canada is too limited.  Problems with housing and continuation of unusual life in hotels or temporary camps, long delay in education opportunities for their children and psychological consequences of these shortcomings are the most important complaints  of these refugees.

FAROE recommends following points:

Official recognition of Afghanistan as unsafe country (for its own citizen)by the UNHCR and authorities in EU member States.

The UNHCR should start processing refugee cases in Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Uzbekistan, etc, for  Afghans living in these countries.

The UNHCR, UN, EU  and international human rights organizations should pay special attention to cruel and inhuman treatment of Afghan refugees and forced deportation of them by Iranian and Pakistani authorities. The UNHCR office in Pakistan should stop silence about arrest of thousands of Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

Removal of impediments towards inclusion of refugees such as poor housing system and  lack of education opportunities for children of even the evacuated Afghans in Europe, USA and Canada. These impediments  prevents their integration and participation in their host countries. FAROE recommends timely and effective measures to remove these problems.

On behalf of Executive Committee of FAROE,

Ali Daliry, chairperson

Copy to: UNHCR HQ/PAKIS@UNHCR.ORG International Organization for Migration (IOM)/ hq@iom.int+iomislamabad@iom.int/ Cabinet of EU commissioner for Home Affairs/EU committee for Human Rights, immigration authorities of the USA and Canada.

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