Sending back refugees to Afghanistan will only exacerbate Afghanistan's woes.
Why is it happening ?
KABUL- In October 2016, the EU enacted the Joint Way Forward on Migration, through which European countries can refuse asylum application of Afghan refugees. The JWM has resulted in the expulsion of more than 15 million Afghans from the EU. However, European countries are not alone on outsourcing responsibility on countries with fewer resources.
Pakistan has ordered 1.6 million Afghans to flee the country within a one-month period. In fact, Afghanistan accounts for the second largest refugee population in the world and much of that population take refuge in Pakistan. However, it can be argued that both the European short-term, political and domestically inspired policies and the Pakistan policy of refoulement are counterproductive.
Afghanistan’s security situation is highly volatile: the Taliban, a terrorist group continues to fight an insurgency against the central government. The Pakistan and European refoulement policies will only exacerbate Afghanistan’s security situation by creating an influx of internally displaced people that will strain the already weak central government.
Why does it matter?
Afghan refugees live in a contradictory situation: Afghanistan is in a dire security and economic situation while the EU takes a hardline stance on refugees. EU countries for the first time, after the introduction of the Geneva Convention, returned refugees to a country at war.
The UN’s Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) estimates the Afghanistan conflict has internally displaced as many as 360,000 Afghans. It can be argued that responsibility for the contradictory situation Afghan refugees live lies in the EU’s decision at the International Conference on Afghanistan.
In it, the EU bestow 14,3 billion in aid to Afghanistan. This is a compensation payment for returning Afghan refugees. However, this economic compensation doesn’t solve the causes at the root of Afghanistan’s country humanitarian crisis and weak government: Afghan refugees hardly go through a program of repatriation.
If at all, the EU’s decision to repatriate and more rarely to accept Afghans into refugee status highlights how poorer countries increasingly take the burden. This is all to say that Afghan refugees remain in a precarious situation, where they cannot find a definite country to live in peace.
What can you do about it?
At the governmental level, Afghanistan is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. It needs to implement mechanisms to hold governments and donors accountable for the effective use of aid. In fact, there must be a parallel institution able to work and coordinate international aid with the Afghan government.
In this regard, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) cash grant will show how it cannot only be a push factor for returnees, but rather, as argued by the UNHCR Filippo Grandi and in accordance with the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, it must be a valid incentive, to create better conditions for returnees.
Afghanistan government leaders should agree in incrementing the repatriation package, in order, as dictated by the Afghan president Ghani, to set up a resettlement programme. That is it should consist of the disposal of an inventory of available lands, where refugees should be provided of houses, with water and electricity.
In particular, European Parliaments and International NGOs, such as the UNHCR but also the USAID, should come into agreement with government institutions and local NGOs and communities. They should address cash grants to create the safe conditions Afghan refugees can resettle, that is they should be engaged with governmental institutions in policy-making community-based processes, such as the already successful National Solidarity Program and the Citizens’ Charter Program.
In fact, these programmes have been addressed to provide for policies aimed at educating the Afghan population and at distributing resources equally, through the use of the budget and implementation of projects by the part of local people. This, therefore, can reduce corruptions, which is at the root of the dissatisfaction of those radical Mujahedin. At an individual level, Millennials should make donations to the UNHCR, particularly to encourage the increment of the cash grants addressed to improve the living conditions of those displaced.
The UNHCR’s main objective is to ensure that repatriations to Afghanistan are achieved safely, gradually and on a voluntary basis. In addition, Millennials can also make a donation to USAID, since it is helping Afghanistan to be restored from an economic and civic point of view. For example, it is supporting those institutions that can accountably respond to people’s needs and aspirations, investing in infrastructures and human capital, which make the country less exposed to insurgents, to illicit business and corruption.
Giulia Ciriachi briefs from Rome, Italy. She holds a Master of Science in International Political Economy and Development.