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Amnesty International – calls Europe to stop returning Afghans to “deteriorating” Afghanistan

October 17, 2018

Summary: When is a country too dangerous to return to?  Amnesty International called European countries to stop returning Afghan asylum seekers to a deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan.

Last week Amnesty International issued an appeal to European governments to stop forced returns of Afghan asylum seekers due to the “demonstrably deteriorating security and humanitarian situation”:

Amnesty International, 10 October 2018: Ahead of a week of action across Europe, Amnesty International calls on European governments to stop forcibly sending people to deadly conditions in Afghanistan. The recent dramatic increase in returns of Afghan asylum-seekers have put thousands of people at a real risk of serious human rights violations in contravention of the binding international legal principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits states from transferring anyone to a place where they are at real risk of serious human rights violations.

Despite demonstrably deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan over the past two years and the record number of civilian casualties, European countries have stepped up the deportations of Afghan nationals arguing that areas of the country are “safe” – in stark contrast to the developments on the ground…The war in Afghanistan has affected lives in multiple ways. In addition to physical insecurity, Afghans have suffered socially, economically and psychologically. Without any prospect of peace on the horizon, Afghans are now at risk in every corner of the country. Public places, such as schools, hospitals, markets, sports grounds and clubs, mosques and even funeral ceremonies, have been targeted.

Image result for kabul talibanThe Taliban certainly seem to have upped their game this year and the security situation looks to have deteriorated since the NATO departure in December 2014.  It remains difficult to define the point at which it is too dangerous to return failed asylum seekers – a highly sensitive political issue for most countries.  European countries rely, theoretically at least, on something called Article 15(c), which is an EU Directive (DIRECTIVE 2011/95/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL) that holds that people should not be returned to a country or an area of a country if the security situation is so dangerous that the act of simply returning there would put them at high risk of being affected by violence, irrespective of any specific threats that might have caused them to have fled in the first place.  I assume that places like Afghanistan in the 1980s (Soviet invasion), Afghanistan during the 1990s (civil war), Iraq in the 2005- 2015 period and Syria from 2013 onwards would fit this type of definition.

But when is a country too dangerous?  Uppsala data shows the brutal 1990s civil war as actually being less bad than the current situation, purely in terms of casualties:

 

 

 

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