Friday, 9 October 2009

Words From Afghanistan

The cancelling of France's participation in the Afghan deportation flight on 6 October may well have been the victory for refugee and migrant rights groups, who carried out protests such as the one at Lille's Lesquin Airport on Wednesday night, as the Institute of Race Relations and others rightly claim it to be. But many of us know that it is inevitable that the UK and French governments will try again, despite the growing evidence that the situation in Afghanistan is getting worse despite the pretence at countrywide elections.

This has been starkly illustrated by the testimony of Wahid Nawabi, the president of the Association Ensemble Pour l’Afghanistan (EPA). He and his colleagues, who work closely witht he associations in calais and cooperated with Medicins du Monde in the recent scabies treatment programme, have just returned from a mission to Kabul to evaluate a 7 year programme of development aid. This programme has allowed their organisation to establish a network of contacts with detailed knowledge of the political, economic, social and security of the country, and their conclusion paint a picture of a country "in a creeping total war and there is not a secure square kilometre in Afghanistan, including Kabul, and many areas, such as East and South, are strongly dominated by the presence of Taliban. The ex-pats are forbidden to leave town and live in complete 'bunkerisation'.

"In a country plagued by narcotics trafficking, the mafia and corruption there is no embryo of a state law or the ability to ensure public safety. This failing is particularly pronounced in regions of eastern and southern Afghanistan, mostly Pashtun, from which originate most migrants in Calais. These are also areas of conflict where the most violent civilian deaths in the thousands over the last 3-4 years: victims of NATO strikes, the Taliban, warlords and traffickers of all kinds."

"During my recent visit to Kabul, I made informal contacts with two UN staff, including one from the UNHCR, about the risk faced by Afghans who were forcibly returned by the EU countries. According to these sources, the antenna of the IOM in Kabul has information on multiple cases of former migrants who have been executed on their return home. While not belonging to the IOM they reported 2 cases of murder, one of which recently took place in Paghman (25 km from Kabul), domain of the 'warlord' Rasoul Sayyaf. According to these people, the grounds for execution are either as a collaborator [many who flee Afghanistan have been translators for NATO] or having been label as being on a particular side in the conflict or through the inability to repay loans ($15-25000) contracted with the traffickers.

"In short, migrants fleeing poverty to build a better future are now also exposed to death for political reasons. In these circumstances the European states like Britain which proceed with forced returns or those who are consider doing so like France, beyond the fact that they violate the right of asylum, bear a direct criminal responsibility for each case Migrant murdered or subjected to violence to return to Afghanistan.

"The NATO countries now recognize their total failure both on the security front and on reconstruction, but they refuse to admit that these migrants are the sad result of a faulty strategy deployed during the past eight years. It is for this reason that we are totally responsible for those migrants who are on our soil and that we must protect.

"It is interesting to note the striking contrast in the treatment of Afghan refugees from the period of Soviet occupation and now. During the Russian-led war in Afghanistan, the West welcomed the Afghan migrants (400-300,000) with open arms. When Afghans fleeing war and violence with NATO in command of military operations, we tell them they are undesirable and that the security situation is good enough at home for them to return there.

"The destruction of the 'jungle' was broadcast in Kabul on 2 occasions and the man in the street has retained the violent intervention of the French state. The words of a taxi driver summed up pretty well felt locally: 1) Kabul = Calais, we suffer the same treatment and experience the misery and violence, 2) for migrants only seeking Eldorado, the bigwigs traffickers are in the highest echelons of the Afghan state and the Western diplomats and generals meet them daily. If they really want to send a message to the traffickers, do not blame the victims and punish them a second time, neutralize the leaders, 3) stop the war and that will give hope of life and dignity to this country and the problem of migration will disappear.

"The complexity and the increasing migration from South to North, which is on political or economic grounds, requires a comprehensive, humane and accountable approach. We do not address one of the challenges of the 21st century by brutality and media events, contrary to our republican and democratic values, and barricading themselves behind the Treaty of Dublin."

No comments: