Afghan Refugees Face Two-Tier System in Europe

A number of Afghan ladies round a desk in a neoclassical constructing in central Athens are taking notes in leather-based notebooks as they debate the way forward for ladies and women of their homeland. They’re legislators, journalists and judges – however they’re additionally refugees, a trait that causes lots of them to wince in disgrace and mistrust.

“For a lady who has labored for 20 years, having to return right here and be referred to as a refugee, it’s not a straightforward factor,” journalist Khatera Saeedi mentioned as others within the group nodded emphatically.

The presence of Ms. Saeedi and different refugees in Athens has highlighted a sophisticated actuality for tens of 1000’s of individuals airlifted after the Taliban takeover: The Afghans Europe desires are individuals who have by no means been. need to be there.

“I had an excellent life whereas I used to be there,” mentioned Wahida, 31, a global group employee from Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, who evacuated to the Netherlands and desires to be recognized by her first title. Afghanistan. “I had a really prestigious and difficult job, and I by no means considered making use of for asylum in a foreign country.”

Like Kabul fell to the Taliban in Augustand Afghanistan’s elites had been transported to Western locations, European Union nations pledged to obtain as much as 40,000 individuals, lots of whom made it to Europe.

Many are educated and expert sufficient to be linked to the huge worldwide presence that has formed Afghan lives over the previous 20 years – lastly giving them the connections to seek out their manner. overseas by way of authorized channels.

They stand in distinction to the tens of 1000’s of different individuals from their very own nations, who’ve discovered their method to Europe’s doorstep lately – generally as smugglers, typically through prolonged overland journeys. 1000’s of miles after which a remaining perilous crossing – solely to be turned away.

Because the Taliban takeover, Afghans have made essentially the most asylum requests within the European Union, in keeping with the European Workplace for Refugees. However even earlier than final 12 months, Afghans had persistently turn out to be one of many largest teams looking for asylum from overseas.

For years they’ve been pushed to the underside of the road, their purposes denied to help refugees from extra pressing and rapid conflicts, equivalent to in Syria.

Camille Le Coz, an professional on the Migration Coverage Institute, a Brussels-based think-tank who has labored in Afghanistan, mentioned Afghans and Iraqis, each fleeing protracted wars, led by the West, face the identical difficulties as asylum seekers in Europe.

However the arrival of 1000’s of displaced individuals from Kabul has highlighted a longstanding elementary circulation in EU migration coverage.

“It highlights the dichotomy that the EU has tried to create between those that come to Europe to assert asylum by way of a protected and authorized route and people who arrive by uncommon means – and the latter usually are not welcome.

However these roads are closed to most refugees, a proven fact that forces 1000’s to achieve Europe through harmful and costly smuggling routes.

Usually, solely about half of Afghans who apply for asylum within the European Union are profitable. That acceptance fee rose to 91% within the remaining months of 2021, as EU evacuees are tracked rapidly by way of typically sluggish asylum authorities.

The Dutch authorities, which maintains a army presence in Afghanistan, rapidly granted asylum to the two,000 Afghans it evacuated, however virtually delayed any declare from the occasional Afghans. .

Athens is presently the momentary residence of about 170 distinguished Afghan ladies and their households, together with a 3rd of the nation’s feminine legislators, who’ve been visited there by a coalition of charities and can had been resettled in Germany and different wealthy nations.

They gathered on the Melissa Community, an NGO in central Athens that helps migrant and refugee ladies. Melissa offered them with a day by day sanctuary, an area to satisfy and chat, and host psychological well being and authorized support workshops.

Thalia Portokaloglou, a psychological well being specialist for Melissa, mentioned: “There’s a important distinction between the way in which these ladies turned refugees and the experiences of different refugees.

“They convey with them the ache and concern that we see in all the ladies we work with right here,” she provides, “however in addition they include a function, serving to them discover that means in life. .”

Lawmakers among the many displaced in Athens are working diligently to determine an exile group to advocate for the rights of Afghan ladies, and thru that, to uphold their identification and sense of function. their.

Shagufa Noorzai, Afghanistan’s youngest lawmaker, mentioned: “I take into consideration those that got here and gave me their vote when elected to Parliament from Helmand province in 2019, including that she felt responsible. for working away when her voters stayed to face the Taliban and starve.

Nazifa Yusufi Bek, one other lawmaker, from Takhar province, mentioned: “A politician must be with their individuals in battle. “Now that we’re in Europe, we’re protected, however our concern is for our individuals in Afghanistan.”

Whereas most deportations of Afghans from the European Union have stopped in latest months, the bloc has managed to stop peculiar Afghans from arriving and is paying neighboring nations tons of of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} to organizes fleeing refugees in an effort to stop them from shifting to Europe. .

“Borders stay open to these fleeing violence and persecution,” mentioned Margaritis Schinas, a high official on the European Fee, mentioned. in a single interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa on August 15, the day that Kabul fell.

However “we’ve to be clear,” he added, “we’ll solely settle for those that actually need safety – those that cross the border illegally can be introduced again.”

And never solely do Afghans and different asylum-seekers in Europe have lengthy waits and low entry to safety, they more and more face indiscriminate violence and unlawful deportation at exterior borders. of Europe, stopping them from making use of for asylum within the first place.

In early September, simply two weeks after the autumn of Kabul and when sympathy with the Afghans was at its peak, Greek border guards accused of brutal deportation to Turkey a big group of asylum seekers, together with Afghans. Amongst them was an Italian-Afghan authorized resident who was in Greece working for Frontex, the European Union’s border company, and was helped by the identical border guards he was there. asylum seekers.

Most Afghans cross Asia to Turkey and attain Greece by inserting themselves within the palms of smugglers, who place them in precarious dinghys to cross the Aegean Sea. In the event that they handle to use for asylum, they’ve to attend years in authorized and monetary limbo till their declare is adjudicated.

That was the expertise of one other Afghan girl at Melissa, who was there to assist a gaggle of newly arrived evacuees: the group’s Farsi interpreter, Karime Ganji.

She arrived in Greece in 2016 after a dramatic overland journey in the course of winter, crossing mountains and rivers along with her two kids, then 3 and 9. Through the previous 5 years in Athens, she has studied English and Greek, and enrolled at a college in Athens. However her asylum request continues to be being processed.

Ms. Ganji mentioned she sympathizes with the distinguished group of girls she helps, however added that different Afghans and different asylum seekers additionally deserve extra help.

“They arrive from bloodshed, they’re survivors,” she mentioned by way of tears. “I do not contemplate them politicians, only a small group of harmless individuals from Afghanistan in want of assist.”

Monika Proncczuk and Wali Arian contribution report. Afghan Refugees Face Two-Tier System in Europe

Fry Electronics Team

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