People displaced due to fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security forces in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in July 2021 | Photo: EPA/M SADIQ
People displaced due to fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security forces in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in July 2021 | Photo: EPA/M SADIQ

Thirty NGOs have called on the European Union and its member countries to suspend deportations of Afghans. The security situation in Afghanistan has worsened significantly in recent months, nearly 300,000 people have been newly displaced since the start of the year.

Thirty NGOs on Wednesday (July 21) called European countries to "immediately" suspend deportations of Afghans and on the EU Commission to encourage member states to halt deportations. "The security situation in Afghanistan does not allow to return people to the country without putting their life at risk," they stated.

They also asked asylum authorities to "reexamine all final negative decisions for Afghan asylum seekers still present in European countries in the light of the current situation in Afghanistan and foreseeable risks of future persecution being identified as a result of this new situation."

Finland, Sweden suspended deportations

The signatories included Caritas Europe, Save the Children, Pro Asyl, and the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, as well as several national refugee councils and a number of groups run by Afghans in exile. They said that they were "deeply concerned" about what will happen to those deported.

On July 11, Afghanistan had asked European countries to cease deportations of Afghan nationals for three months due to an uptick in fighting between state forces and the Taliban.

Deportations to Afghanistan have long been a controversial political issue in several European countries. Finland and Sweden recently decided to suspend all deportations to the country due to the worsening security situation. Germany has not suspended deportations, though the country only forces rejected asylum seekers who committed a criminal offense to return to Afghanistan. Earlier this month, the deportation of a 23-year-old man about to get married to a German woman sparked outrage among migrant and refugee rights activists.

More civilian deaths in Afghanistan

UN refugee agency UNHCR recently warned that a humanitarian crisis is looming in Afghanistan. In a statement released on July 13, they said that "the escalating conflict brings increased human suffering and civilian displacement." An estimated 270,000 Afghans have been newly displaced since January 2021, according to the agency. In total, over 3.5 million Afghan nationals have been displaced.

UNHCR said that the main reasons for people fleeing their homes is "the worsening security situation." The agency said that displaced civilians also told them and their partners of "incidents of extortion by non-state armed groups and the presence of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on major roads."

Between January and March 2021, 573 civilians were killed -- among them 64 women and 151 children, according to a report released by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in mid-June. This marked a 29% increase compared to the same period in 2020, the agency said.

 

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