An Afghan woman carries her child at the Toza Lokay refugee camp on the Tajik-Afgan border, some 250 km south from Dushanbe | Photo: Dmitry Khrupov/ARCHIVE/EPA/ANSA
An Afghan woman carries her child at the Toza Lokay refugee camp on the Tajik-Afgan border, some 250 km south from Dushanbe | Photo: Dmitry Khrupov/ARCHIVE/EPA/ANSA

UN refugee agency UNHCR has denounced Tajikistan for its continued "forced" repatriation of Afghan refugees. The Central Asian country reportedly keeps deporting Afghans despite the human rights violations in their home country.

"Forcing persons who are escaping persecution to return to their country against their will is illegal and puts their lives at risk," the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said in an online statement published on August 25.

UNHCR expressed concerns over the continuous detentions and forcible deportations of Afghan refugees from Tajikistan.

Tajikistan, the UN agency added, continues the practice despite ongoing human rights violations against civilians in Afghanistan, "including in respect of women and girls."

Family deported despite UNHCR 'intervention'

A recent case, according to UNHCR, concerns an Afghan family with three children who was forcefully repatriated to Afghanistan on August 23 through the Panji Poyon border checkpoint in southwestern Tajikistan despite "UNHCR's intervention."

"Forced return of refugees is against the law and runs contrary to the principle of non-refoulement, a cornerstone of international refugee law," the online statement reads.

"We have continuously urged the authorities in Tajikistan to allow access to territory for those fleeing conflict and persecution in Afghanistan and halt any further deportations," UNHCR's Elizabeth Tan said.

Half of all Afghans face food insecurity

The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), meanwhile, expressed concerns over the capability of Afghan refugees who return to their country to earn a living.

Richard Trenchard, the FAO representative in Afghanistan, highlighted the legal and physical risks Afghan refugees face upon their return to Afghanistan. They are made worse by the ongoing food insecurity, which has become more acute one year after the Taliban seized control over Afghanistan, Trenchard said.

To overcome this crisis, the US government has announced it would provide FAO with a grant worth $80 million (€79.7 million). These funds will be used to "boost local food production, generate income and revive rural markets," FAO said in a press release on August 25.

The goal is also to "achieve food security in the face of continuing drought and deep economic crisis."

 

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