Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Recommended Reads

Strangers in a Homeland: one man works to help Afghan migrants return to a place they never knew

2 min

Vanity Fair, Spring 2021

Experienced Afghanistan reporter May Jeong’s reportage about two Afghans, one deported with his family, one ‘voluntarily’ returned, and Abdul Ghafoor, the one man who helps people like them in Kabul, and his small organisation AMASO. With some sobering information:

In 2017, when the International Organization for Migration, an intergovernmental body associated with the United Nations that provides immigration services, announced that it would no longer assist deportees with housing, allowance, or transportation … there was no policy or institution—and certainly no political will—to help them reintegrate. … [and] the task of tending to the deported fell largely on Ghafoor. (…)

In those early days, European diplomats in Kabul showed great interest in Ghafoor’s mission, and even offered him financial support. Their interest, however, was more precisely rooted in having him act as a deterrent rather than a provider of pragmatic support. When Ghafoor refused to state his objective as “preventing irregular migration” as a precondition for receiving funding, donor countries rescinded their commitments. (…)

… the Afghan Center for Excellence (ACE), an organization that, through various subcontracts, disburses financial assistance to returning migrants… symbolizes the kind of nesting doll of contracting and subcontractingthat has come to define many aspects of the war economy in Afghanistan. It was contracted by International Returns and Reintegration Assistance, which itself was a project of the European Return and Reintegration Network, which reports to the European Commission—all innocuous-sounding organizations that have tended to leave the recipients of its benefits confused and bereft. (ACE also had contracts with the Etisalat Telecommunication Group Company, to run its call center, and the US Department of State, to teach female Afghan entrepreneurs how to use the accounting software suite QuickBooks.)

Once the process of allocating funds was taken over by ACE, what was already a prolonged endeavor extended into a nine-month wait, an impossibly long time if you are not sure where you sleep that very night.

And a disarming statement by former Afghan refugees minister:

“The main reason for immigration is insecurity,” then Minister of Refugees and Repatriation with the government of Afghanistan Sayed Hussain Alemi Balkhi told me. “The Afghan government wants [European] governments to stop deporting until we have security in the country.” Balkhi acknowledged his government does not have the wherewithal to halt deportations. (…)

In the United Kingdom… the Independent Asylum Commission conducted an audit of the asylum system, wherein it found that a “culture of disbelief” deterred asylum officers from hearing refugees’ testimonies without prejudice, and that “the adversarial nature of the asylum process (though not inherently unfair) stacks the odds against the asylum seeker seeking sanctuary.”