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Afghan Govt Accelerates Efforts To Address Refugees Problems

15 Sep 2018 Tolo News

The Minister of Refugees and Repatriation Sayed Hussain Alemi Balkhi on Saturday raised concerns over Afghan refugees condition in Indonesia, Turkey and Greece, giving details about Afghan citizens returning home.

The minister said Afghan refugees in the three countries are facing serious challenges including "sexual harassment".

Balkhi said they will appoint attachés in these countries to address Afghan refugees’ challenges. He added that Afghan refugees’ situation has improved compared with past few years.

“Afghan refugees situation has improved in the last four years,” said Balkhi. 

Indonesia, Turkey and Greece are the countries from where Afghan refugees intend to go to Europe and Australia. 

Balkhi said an Afghan delegation recently visited Turkey to assess the refugees situation and that a Turkish delegation will visit Kabul at the end of this year to take further steps for solving refugees’ problems. 

“Education opportunities have been provided for undocumented Afghan refugees children in Iran and currently 78,000 Afghan refugees children are attending schools in Iran,” said Balkhi. 

According to Balkhi, around 700,000 undocumented Afghan refugees in Pakistan have been registered and will be issued stay documents. 

He said that 429,000 people have been displaced in the country this year adding that the number is much less than last year.

According to Balkhi, 520 Afghan refugees have been deported from Europe so far this year and 1,495 others have returned voluntarily. 

He said 780 Afghan refugees wwre deported last year and 580 Afghan refugees in 2016, said Balkhi.  

Meanwhile, Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Afghan refugees’ issue is part of Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s visit to Kabul. 

This comes as a recent investigation by TOLOnews has found that every day hundreds of Afghans are leaving the country for Iran through Nimroz province and that they are crossing the border unchecked. 

Migrants fleeing the country this way continue to do so despite the numerous challenges they deal with along the way. 

TOLOnews found that the first step is the link up with human traffickers – which takes place in various provinces around the country.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) meanwhile stated in a recent report that 514,405 Afghans returned home from Iran and Pakistan between January 1 to August 25 - of which 492,343 of them returned from Iran.

According to the IOM, Iran is currently hosting 2.14 million Afghan refugees.

The organization said last month that the number of Afghan refugees returning home from Iran has increased sharply – especially in the wake of the Iranian currency losing its value against the US dollar.

Returnees Warn Against Illegal Migration

Return refugees had their own words of advice however. 

“Stay in your country, even if you are hungry – you should not go to Iran,” said Safar Mohammad, a return refugee from Iran.

Another returnee concurred and said: “I ask my compatriots to stay in their country. We had tough times in Iran,” said Hayatullah, another return refugee.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) meanwhile stated in a recent report that 514,405 Afghans returned home from Iran and Pakistan between January 1 to August 25 - of which 492,343 of them returned from Iran.

According to the IOM, Iran is currently hosting 2.14 million Afghan refugees.

The organization said last month that the number of Afghan refugees returning home from Iran has increased sharply – especially in the wake of the Iranian currency losing its value against the US dollar. 

IOM has also stated that between 8,000 and 10,000 undocumented Afghans return home from Iran every day.

Human trafficking has been on the rise in Afghanistan over the past few years – particularly after the drawdown of foreign troops from the country in 2014.

In a bid to combat this, the Afghan government launched the Afghanistan Network for Combating Trafficking in Persons (ANCTIP) in May this year. 

The network is part of a multi-year United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded program, implemented by the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) where Afghanistan, along with regional countries, are trying to tackle the problem.

A meeting attended by representatives of Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Pakistan was held last month where the establishment of a joint regional network to fight human trafficking was discussed.

According to Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, who addressed the meeting, these human traffickers have gained ground on the back of problems in the country including the security situation. 

Law Revised

In June last year, the Afghan law on trafficking was revised and since then government and NGOs have been closely following the situation. 

Last month, the Afghan Justice Minister Abdul Basir Anwar said: ''With the approval of a new law on trafficking we have created a good basis to respond to trafficking in a more complete manner.”

He said that the hope is that NGOs ''can further strengthen their response to trafficking by stepping up their cross-border cooperation''. 

The law was revised to help Afghan government officials better distinguish between the crimes of human trafficking and of aiding and abetting illegal immigration, which had previously been considered the same. By making this distinction, Afghanistan aims to provide better protection for the victims of both crimes.

Original Link: https://www.tolonews.com/afghanistan/afghan-govt-accelerates-efforts-address-refugees-problems

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