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Refugees: no sympathy from President Ghani

March 31, 2016

Summary: A surprisingly hard line from President Ghani on the issue of Afghan refugees going to Europe.



The BBC have an interview with President Ghani:

Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani has taken a tough and somewhat unexpectedly blunt stance on the tens of thousands of his citizens who are fleeing the country to make the dangerous journey to Europe.

“I have no sympathy,” the Afghan leader told me in his palace in Kabul. He is calling on his countrymen to remain in the war-ravaged nation and join in the effort to rebuild it.

But do his words carry the weight they should, in a country that is increasingly feeling frustrated with the political elite, and a sense of hopelessness about their future?

Convincing people to stay feels like an impossible task for what is perhaps one of the toughest jobs in the world, being Afghanistan’s president. Ashraf Ghani was sworn in in September 2014 after controversial elections…

In answer to a qustion on why European countries are sending Afghan refugees back, on the basis they were economic migrants only, Ghani said the people of the country need to make a commitment and to not leave under the current situation.

He said migrants make the journey voluntarily, “they are paying $10,000 to $30,000 USD – they are impoverishing their families in order to make that journey because that journey was made on false assumptions”.

“We are under attack. Do we stand up for our right to breathe, for our right to live or do we pack up and go?” he asked.

“This is an existential choice. Countries do not survive by their best attempting to flee. So I have no sympathy.”

“My goal is to make sure my people live with dignity, with hope and with determination,” he said implying that people need to stand up in the face of threats.

According to UN statistics, in the last 12 months, over 250,000 Afghans fled the country and that of the refugees arriving in Greece, Afghans made up 28 per cent in January and 25 per cent in February.

We should try to bar in mind that many of the refugees/migrants are young boys, often with (or acquiring) mental health issues as a result of their Afghan and trafficking experiences, with little or no say in what is happening to them.  In June 2015, President Ashraf Ghani strongly echoed Minister Balkhi’s sentiments that Afghanistan was not able to take returnees back for resource and security reasons.  In a speech made on World Refugee Day, the 20th,  he noted the difficulties for those Afghans returning to the country from illegally seized properties, deprivation of rights and the lack of basic amenities available.  In closing, he specifically mentioned the plight of Afghan asylum seekers in Europe:

“It is also worth mentioning that thousands of Afghans live as refugees in Europe, Australia, Canada, United States and other countries and have benefited from their hospitality and services. But recently an increasing number of Afghan refugees have faced the risk of getting expelled because of lack of documentation.

My request to those countries is to take into account our problems this year and stop expelling Afghan asylum seekers.  The story of our refugees is a sad part of our modern history.”

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