Pakistan and the UN refugee agency are holding a conference to highlight the challenges facing Afghan refugees. Fewer and fewer applications are being approved as well. Can a key reform curb smuggling? One evening, 10 days after the accident, as Mohseni was being brought back to prison, he was told Zahra had died. With Afghanistan still suffering from war and with few prospects of a stable future in Pakistan, Muhammad – who used to work informally at a vegetable market or transporting goods in wheelbarrows – says he decided to try for Europe. Travelling outside of one’s designated district requires permission. By 2015, the province was a battlefield for a three-way war between ISIL (ISIS), the Taliban, and the government. We speak to some of those facing impossible choices. The city of Kabul, Afghanistan [Oscar Durand/Al Jazeera]“Is it possible to go and live in Afghanistan as a young woman, alone?” Naiby says. Naiby’s father and brother in Kabul, meanwhile, applied with the German embassy there to be reunited with her mother in Germany. Colombia followed, hosting nearly 1.8 million displaced Venezuelans. He turned over the rest of his money for the horse to carry his wife and five of their children, while he carried one daughter on his back. There are few schools in Sariciman, and little work beyond farming and raising sheep. In 2015, Tehran began offering universal free education and health care, even for un-registered Afghan refugees. In November 2018, a Refugees International team sat in Ali Hekmat’s office in Kayseri, Turkey, as he told us about the harsh realities Afghan refugees face living there. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes Iran’s efforts to extend education opportunities for nearly half a million Afghan … “They told me how to pass to not be arrested by either.”. In 2019, the … Afghan boy beaten to death by Turkish officers. “The group was a kilometre or two ahead of us, and the guide beat us with a stick to keep pace with them,” he says. But soon after they had submitted all their documents to the embassy, a car bomb exploded there in May 2017, killing 150 people, and prompting Berlin to shut down all diplomatic missions in the country. They rely on the kindness of locals and other Afghans. Bodies of ‘beaten and tortured’ Afghans recovered at Iran border, Refugees accuse Greece of pushing them back out to sea, International community urged to help Afghan refugees in Pakistan, How Afghan refugees are helping Turkey fight coronavirus. "Expanding safe and legal pathways to protection, including through resettlement, saves refugees' lives and it can also mitigate their resort to dangerous journeys by land or sea," Triggs said. Iranian police stopped them and asked for their documents. Izz Turkey is home to almost 3.6 million Syrian refugees and close to 330,000 registered refugees and asylum-seekers of other nationalities, including Afghans and Pakistanis, according to the … Afghan refugees in Turkey find themselves unable to work legally, waiting for a call from the United Nations that never seems to come. So Naiby, her parents, brother and sister, left for Iran. In each year, more than half of those returning to Afghanistan were deported by Iran. Serda, a refugee from Afghanistan, holds photographs of her daughter Zahra, who died while the family was being smuggled to Europe. “Syria, before the war, unless you were politically involved in opposition groups, you had a stable life, and that has not been the case for Afghanistan,” Stoyer says. “They have been coming through here since the Soviet invasion,” he told Al Jazeera, “but in the last three years it’s become a constant flow of refugees, and we wish they did not come.”. They took out all my fingernails with pliers,” he says. The UNHCR is also active in Turkey; however, in 2013, the UNHCR stopped processing claims from Afghan refugees due to capacity issues. Additionally4, 170,000 Afghan refugees and asylum seekers reside in Turkey, as a transit country for migratory routes to Europe5. “My daughter’s stomach was torn apart… her stomach was out of her body,” Mohseni says. Most are shackled in their seats and guarded by German police officers hired as private security to accompany them on the flights. It is almost two months, no answer from UNHCR or from other human rights supporting agency to help the Afghan refugees in Turkey. Every month, chartered planes carry scores of Afghans who have been denied asylum in Germany back to Kabul. Two years ago, Mohseni – an ethnic Hazara from Jaghori, in Afghanistan’s central Ghazni province – simply wanted to take his daughter Faisa, who was 12, to a nearby city to get medical treatment for her seizures. Turkish officials claim that the returns of Afghan immigrants are voluntary. The volume, kept wrapped in layers of colourful cloth and bound by a yellow sash, is the only possession the Yacoubi family has managed to hold on to in the 38 years since they left Afghanistan. Even well-documented and publicly known asylum cases of Afghans fleeing the Taliban – like that of the Naiby family – now faced rejection. The Communication with Communities (CwC) team in Turkey was on a mission. Turkey is home to almost 3.6 million Syrian refugees and close to 330,000 registered refugees and asylum-seekers of other nationalities, including Afghans and Pakistanis, according to the UNHCR. Naiby recalls living in any available building, in cities like Bonn and Cologne. And German authorities floated the idea of following a trend in other European countries of prosecuting refugee rights activists for simple actions like publicising the time and location of a deportation flight. In the Turkish village of Sariciman, at the Iranian border, some 96km (60 miles) northeast of Van, the fresh-faced mayor, Saban Ulgen, says he cannot remember a time when Afghans were not coming down the nearby mountains that mark the frontier. It only became worse.”. Outside are the fruit stand and the street corner where they boarded the minibus for the journey that would kill Zahra. Turkey currently hosts the largest population of refugees in the world, including a growing number of Afghan refugees. “Even reports from hospitals where someone has been admitted for a suicide attempt may no longer comply with these new regulations,” Soyer says. Challenging deportation has become more difficult as well. Pakistan is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol. Furthermore, many of the UNHCR quotas for the resettlement of refugees in third countries (such as in Europe), which formerly belonged to Iranians, Afghans and Iraqis, were allocated … “We don’t come here for fun,” Muhammad says. refugees, Afghans constitute the second largest refugee population after Syrians. Turkey currently hosts some 3.6 million registered Syrian refugees … Instead of calling an ambulance, the driver called other smugglers, who dropped the family off outside a hospital where Zahra was admitted for treatment. In 2010, refugees from Afghanistan numbered near 3,500 and made a sizable proportion of Turkey’s registered migrants. “That is why people became refugees,” he says. By the time they were finally interviewed by German asylum officials about their case, Germany and the EU had made it far more difficult for Afghans to be granted asylum. The law was eventually enacted but with penalties only for civil servants who help those scheduled for deportation. Those who do register with the authorities, like Muhammad, are given “Proof of Registration” cards, and each year Islamabad threatens to revoke those, blaming the Afghans for Taliban attacks in the country. “There is no advantage of being near the border, except the smuggling, but that brings its own problems,” says Ulgen. In the 1980s, as the war between the Mujahideen and the Soviet Union erupted around them, they decided to head for Pakistan, already home to a sizeable population of Pashtuns. Neither the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees nor EU refugee law provides any legal basis for the suspension of the reception of asylum applications. Continued European resources, capacity and solidarity are needed to boost Greece’s response. Afghan Analysts Network, Mass Deportations of Afghans from Turkey: Thousands of migrants sent back in a deportation drive, 21 June 2018. Born in Pakistan, his family are ethnic Pashtuns from near the city of Jalalabad, in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar. When Arezao Naiby and her family had to leave Kabul in 2015, they did not intend to go too far. The centre treats asylum seekers from a host of countries, including Syria, but the constant threat of deportation has taken the heaviest toll on the Afghans. A young Afghan girl at a protest against the blocking of the registration of new Afghan asylum seekers in Turkey. While the situation on the Turkey’s western borders and Greece and movement of several thousand people is of concern, the humanitarian disaster unfolding in the northwest Syria and massive humanitarian needs in Idlib for some 950,000 of internally displaced people continues to require urgent action. Measures taken by the EU and Turkey to stem the flow of people to Europe have sharply reduced asylum applications in Europe. Turkey currently hosts the largest population of refugees in the world, including a growing number of Afghan refugees. The pressure on Afghans in Iran only intensified with the imposition of US sanctions on the country over its nuclear programme in 2018. Community-based protection : Key ways that UNHCR … See more of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency on Facebook Once more, Afghans are on the move, except this time Pakistan and Iran are shutting their doors on them. Her mother was granted asylum, but Naiby was not. Therefore, the stay of registered Afghan refugees … “On this side of the mountain was Iran, and on the other Turkey … he showed me the Turkish police and Iranian police,” Mohseni says. Sprawled on cushions in an apartment in Van, an ailing Khodadad Yakoubi, 76, carefully traces his fingers over the lines in his Quran, proudly reciting. “I told them we were poor, and we are only going to get medication for my child, but they detained me. Afghan refugees in Turkey are in legal limbo in which their status is unclear. They comprise the largest protracted refugee population in Asia, and the second largest refugee population in the world. There are also Afghan refugees in Turkey and in Europe, where they make up the second largest refugee population after the Syrians. More than 1.2 million people applied for asylum in Europe in 2015 and another 1.2 million in 2016; approximately 15 percent of those applicants were Afghans, according to the European Union. Since 2014, Turkey has been the country hosting the largest number of refugees under UNHCR’s mandate in the world – with the vast majority being nationals of the Syrian Arab Republic. 02 March 2020 Groups there have included Syrians, Afghans, Iranians, Sudanese and other nationalities - including women, children and families, arriving in precarious conditions. The rest of the family sits in the next room, quietly waiting for the now routine ritual of mourning to end. By 1989, within a decade of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, more than six million Afghans were living in Pakistan and Iran, with thousands more in dozens of other countries around the world, according to the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR. Turkey hosts some four million refugees and asylum seekers, according to the UNHCR, making it the largest refugee-hosting country in the world. He struggles to find an answer when asked what he misses about his native Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan. Turkey hosts refugees from many countries. For the Yakoubi children, three daughters and a son, growing up in Iran brought the realisation that despite being born there, most Iranians were not ready to accept them. As in all such situations it is important that the authorities refrain from any measures that might increase the suffering of vulnerable people. You cannot go back and build a stable life on that past experience.”. The UNHCR still registers Afghans, which gives them protection from being deported or detained, but does not give them the option to be considered for resettlement ( Dimitriadi 2015 ). UNHCR is monitoring developments in Turkey … © REUTERS. For more information on this topic, please contact: Our fight against sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment, Environment, Disasters and Climate Change. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) chapter in Turkey … Dear UNHCR Authorities, Afghans refugees are the third largest irregular refugee group in Turkey.   |  عربي, A mother and her two children were among the thousands of refugees and migrants who reportedly made their way to the border over the past days. Finally, in early 2019, one night in the city of Van – “when the smuggler figured he couldn’t get any more money out of us,” Mohseni says – they were put in a minivan and told they would be taken west to the city of Tatvan, and then on to Ankara. Some were able to return, for a while, but had their lives upended by a fresh eruption of conflict and violence – either to be displaced elsewhere in the country, or to become refugees yet again Their goal was to reach the capital, Ankara, where they would register for temporary protection with the UN. Muhammad’s family returned to Nangarhar in 2005, only to find it was still a contested prize in the war between the government and the Taliban, so they went back to Pakistan. Schools were hit especially hard, becoming the target of attacks by ISIL. “I grew up with a big question in my mind,” says Kubra Yakoubi in fluent English, “what’s the difference between us, what is a refugee, what is an Afghan girl, what are these things?”. In 2019, 200,000 Afghans were deported, double the number in 2018 and four times the number in 2017, according to Turkey’s Directorate General of Migration Management. Hundreds of Afghans crossed the Turkey-Iran border each day in 2019. Before leaving Afghanistan, Naiby’s mother worked as the top official overseeing women’s prisons in Kabul. All States have a right to control their borders and manage irregular movements, but at the same time should refrain from the use of excessive or disproportionate force and maintain systems for handling asylum requests in an orderly manner. Afghanistan refugees are nationals of Afghanistan who left their country as a result of major wars or persecution. Mohseni, who speaks softly with a distant look in his eyes, says in the last two years he has seen no other visitors here, except for the gravediggers who show up to inter the dead. UNHCR Representation in Turkey, Enis Behic Koryurek Sokak No: 15/A, ]Aziziye Mahallesi, 06550 Cankaya, Ankara, 06550 Ankara, Turkey. Muhammad and other Afghan refugees who fled the Soviet invasion made Pakistan the world’s largest host country for refugees for more than two decades. 170,000 Afghan refugees and asylum seekers reside in Turkey, as a transit country for migratory routes to Europe 5 . Serda keeps the clothes her daughter wore in a plastic bag in a closet. So Muhammad and his family remained in Pakistan, among the 2.5 million Afghans there, half of whom are not registered with Pakistani authorities and all of whom are made increasingly unwelcome by the country’s laws. As such, these two countries host some 12 per cent of the global refugee population. Muhammad has spent his entire life as a refugee, shuttling between his homeland and neighbouring countries in what he says has been a search for a stable life. Soyer is managing director of the Munich Counseling and Treatment Centre for Refugees and Torture Victims, where hundreds of Afghans are referred each year for treatment. There are almost 2.5 million registered refugees from Afghanistan. As a result, the number of asylum applications in Europe fell to around half a million annually. Mohseni brings a ballpoint pen with him to trace the letters of her name in the concrete tombstone, to make sure it does not disappear among the hundreds of knee-high concrete slabs in this cemetery in Van, in the east of Turkey near the Iranian border. For an Afghan to be granted asylum, they now needed to show they, personally, were being threatened in their country. Dear UNHCR Authorities, Afghans refugees are the third largest irregular refugee group in Turkey. At the Dogubayazit bus station in Turkey, a man from Afghanistan shows a video of the illegal border crossing between Afghanistan and Iran [Oscar Durand/Al Jazeera]Stuck now in Sariciman, Muhammad is kept along with dozens of other Afghans in a house with cardboard and tin foil covering the windows, one of several safe houses in the village that locals use to hide migrants until they are ready to be moved. Afghan refugees represent one of the world’s largest protracted refugee population. Afghan refugees are helping to fight COVID19 in Turkey. UNHCR: Urban Refugee Women's Network – Turkey: Publisher: UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Publication Date: December 2017: Country: Syrian Arab Republic | Turkey: Topics: Refugees: Related Document(s) UNHCR: Gender Equality Promising Practices Syrian Refugees in the Middle East and North Africa: Cite as On the borders between Turkey and the EU, UNHCR is working with national partners, Turkish Red Crescent, IOM and Unicef, assessing the situation and providing humanitarian assistance where needed. Refworld is the leading source of information necessary for taking quality decisions on refugee status. Take a look around and discover what you need to know about your stay in Turkey, including where you can go to seek further assistance. Defeating the virus is going to take all hands on deck. Afghans in Iran have not fared much better. In 2017 and 2018, this dropped to less than 50,000 Afghans a year – largely because of mass deportations of Afghans crossing through Turkey. Today, a Syrian applying for asylum in Germany has a 99.8-percent chance of being accepted; more than half of Afghans, though, will have their asylum claim rejected, according to the EU’s official statistics. Turkey hosts some four million refugees and asylum seekers, according to the UNHCR, making it the largest refugee-hosting country in the world. A half-hour drive west of the Iranian city of Urmia, Mohseni says, he and hundreds of other Afghans were brought to the foothills of the mountains straddling the Turkish border. The women take turns cooking food for them while the men scout ahead on the roads to check for police before moving them west, towards Istanbul, and towards Europe. Some days, the smugglers demand more money, other days they say they must wait for the Turkish police along the roads to let their guard down. Most other Afghans in the country have not been so lucky. Therefore, the stay of registered Afghan refugees … He was told either to pay to hire a horse or to leave his children and wife behind because they would slow the group down. But with each trip to Ghazni city, the former-farmer-turned-welder says, the Taliban fighters running a checkpoint on the road grew more suspicious of him, turning him back around. They hiked through the mountains along the border, and in the winter snow, he says nine of the other Afghans travelling with him died. Germany followed up by officially declaring there were “internal protection alternatives,” in Afghanistan – that Afghan cities like Kabul were safe to deport most Afghans to. This leaves irreparable harm in the lives of refugees. Afghans do not have a foundation of stability in their youth, even their youth was marked with persecution or displacement. It soon became clear that none of them would be able to stay in Iran, so Naiby, her mother and sister headed to Turkey and, by December 2015, had reached Germany. About 23,780 Afghans were deported in 2019.⁴ AFGHAN … “I remember how people from all over the country came to the north to see the red tulips. After the US invaded the country in 2001, millions of Afghans again returned, but the optimism that accompanied the fall of the Taliban has long since disappeared. At the top of the ridge, the smuggler left them. The coronavirus pandemic has brought a temporary decline in those figures: Just 44,327 Afghans were apprehended in Turkey between January and November 2020, probably as a result of lockdowns in Turkey and Europe, as well as asylum application processing being suspended in European countries. German staff were pulled out of the country, and have not returned to this day. I had a family, we hoped that soon enough peace would come back and we could return. Their foreign “guests,” as the locals refer to the people crossing the frontier, are kept in village homes with curtains drawn to keep out prying eyes. There are around 2.8 million documented and undocumented Afghan refugees living in Pakistan, making it the largest refugee population in the world after the Syrians in Turkey. Dressed in a dark shalwar kameez, he speaks warily as he shares his story under the watchful gaze of a villager guarding him with a stick. Refworld contains a vast collection of reports relating to situations in countries of origin, policy documents and positions, and documents relating to international and national legal frameworks. Hamdi Mohseni visits the grave of his daughter Zahra, in a cemetery for the unidentified and those who cannot afford a grave plot, in Van, Turkey [Oscar Durand/Al Jazeera]Back in Van, the Mohseni family now lives surrounded by reminders of their journey. 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