Afghans’ deportation angers refugee groups

Refugee groups in the UK have denounced the enforced deportation of Afghan asylum seekers, the first since the fall of the Taliban regime.

The Home Office has declined to provide details of the flight on which some 30 deportees are due to be escorted back to Afghanistan later today.

Deportations to Afghanistan were stopped around eight years ago amid fears of the political and social instability in the country. Now, under revised rules, the Afghans will now be sent home.

Refugee groups have hit out at the enforced deportations which they say are too early as there is substantial evidence to indicate that the country remains unsafe and that the safety of deported individuals cannot be assured.

Acting chief executive of the Refugee Council, Margaret Lally, said that law and order in the country was still in the process of being built up and that people being returned home could exacerbate the situation.

Keith Best, the Chief Executive of the Immigration Advisory Service, said they were opposed to “enforced removals” on the grounds that they were inefficient. He said that unless conducted properly they could result in people being returned directly to the country from which they were deported.

Failed Afghan asylum seekers have been granted exception status to allow them to stay in the UK. However, in a recent ruling Afghanistan was considered sufficiently safe by UK authorities for refugees to be returned home as there had been a "considerable improvement in conditions".

A voluntary scheme aimed at encouraging repatriation offered families up to £2,500 to return. However it is understood that this offer was taken up by only a handful of the thousands of Afghan refugees in the UK.

Refugee agencies have appealed for the voluntary scheme to be give more time as the country remained in chaos.

Earlier this month UN High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers expressed concern at the deteriorating security situation in parts of Afghanistan which he said was “hampering efforts to support returning refugees and internally displaced people”.

Mr Lubbers called on the Afghan authorities and the international community to “take measures to strengthen security in the country, particularly in rural areas”.

He reminded donor governments, particularly in Europe, that consolidating stability in Afghanistan also has a direct bearing on the number of Afghans seeking asylum outside the region.

In 2002, following the fall of the Taliban government, the number of Afghans seeking asylum in Europe dropped by more than half.


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