Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, June 4th, 2020

Afghanistan’s Migrants Crisis

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Afghanistan’s Migrants Crisis

Hundreds of thousands of peoples from conflict zones have arrived in Europe this year in search of protection and better lives. Afghans constitute a large portion of the exodus into Europe in 2015. According to the UN Mission in Afghanistan, insecurity, economic problems and fears of forced recruitment by armed groups are the main causes for the Afghan refugees leaving the country. According to Maya Ameratunga, the UNHCR representative in Afghanistan, “fear of forced recruitment, intimidation by anti-government elements, human rights abuses are some of reasons why refugees are leaving.” With the influx turning into a potential crisis for Afghanistan, the Afghan government has been struggling to tackle the issue. However, thousands of Afghans have left the country this year as part of the large exodus of people from the Middle East, South Asia and Africa into Europe.

There have been calls for curbing the migration crisis and discourage Afghans from leaving the country for European countries. The Afghan government has urged youths to not to leave the country and avoid taking the precarious road for Europe. Based on the nationality of the refugees and migrants leaving their countries for Europe, Afghans have become the second largest group after Syrians coming to European countries. Before November, a large portion of the refugees from Afghanistan landed in Germany and other wealthier European nations. German officials called on Afghans not to leave their country, saying the country would help the government of Afghanistan to provide security and employment for Afghans. Since then, the government of Afghanistan has stepped up diplomatic efforts to work more closely with the destination countries for migrants to resolve the migration crisis.

The Afghan government’s measures to address the issue have been some sort of reactions to an urgency rather than long-term planning for resolving the problem. The government cannot resolve the issue without addressing the root causes of challenges in the country forcing the citizens to take precarious journey abroad. On the hand, the government will not be able to solve the crisis through arbitrary measures which do not deal with the main causes of the migration problem. There have been visible inconsistencies in the policies and approaches of government institutions towards migration of Afghans to other countries. Only through long-term, sustainable and cohesive policies the government would be able to tackle the challenges fundamentally and to more extent successful.

The government’s policy towards migration of Afghans still suffers major flaws. The overall policy of the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation has been to protect rights of the Afghan refugees and negotiate with the countries hosting Afghan refugees to help them settle or return voluntarily. However, the government sent a very contradicting message to the hosting countries. On one hand, initially the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation, and later the Parliament, urged the European countries not to deport Afghan refugees. But later German officials announced Ghani had agreed to accept the deported Afghans from the country. The announcement led to an angry outcry from both inside the country and Afghan refugees in European countries. Though government officials denied any such agreement, the suspicions remained in place, including after President Ghani’s recent trip to Europe.

On the other hand, any agreement with the countries hosting Afghan refugees to have forcefully deported the refugees will only generate further anti-government sentiments among the youths. The government has already been under severe criticisms for its clandestine measures in talking the European governments in a way that it will have no problem with forced deportation of Afghans. One of the most recent such moves from President Ghani was his referral of Afghan refugees being hired as cooks, spurring widespread anger among the public and the refugees abroad. The government needs to realize it will buy more criticisms from the public if it continues to arbitrarily talk about coming back of the refugees.

There is no doubt that Afghan youths should stay in their country. But it is the government’s responsibility to provide security and employment for the youths to prevent them leaving the country. Those who leave for protection and better lives cannot be blamed for escaping daily violence in the country and extreme economic challenges. Ordinary citizens are getting killed or kidnapped on daily basis. This is while unemployment and poverty is also a major driver of people embarking on migrating from the country. The major causes of the migration of Afghans are well-known for the government and the country’s policymakers. The two most important causes of the unprecedented migration of Afghans are war and violence as well as economic challenges. According to reports, 29 out of 34 provinces of the country have been affected by war, violence and internal displacements. Many youths who have received higher education have been leaving the country in recent months, which is showing the country’s grim prospect of security and economic situation.

The most important factor behind the mass migration is what is labeled as ‘pull factors’. Most of Afghans are concerned with their and their family’s safety and security, but in many cases it is the ‘pull factors’ in the destination countries that convince them to leave the country. Many of those arriving in Europe are deemed as economic migrants who take the journey for better lives. Therefore, it is crucially important for the mass influx to be stopped to end the open-door policy of the European countries for the economic migrants. Whatever the causes of migration of Afghan citizens, the Afghan government needs to deal with the issue more responsibly. The people taking the journey risking their lives to reach Europe. Forced deportation of Afghan refugees will have bad consequences for the Afghan government.

The government has enough on its hand to do with no need to encourage deportation of the Afghan refugees. In absence of security and employment for the people, the returned refugees will be a burden on the government’s shoulder. The only long-term and viable solution to the crisis is improvement of security and the country’s economy and job market.

Abdul Ahad Bahrami is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at ahad.bahrami@gmail.com

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