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UN calls on states not to deport Afghan nationals

UN refugee agency makes call due to rapid security, human rights deterioration in Afghanistan as Taliban takes control

Peter Kenny   | 17.08.2021
UN calls on states not to deport Afghan nationals

GENEVA

The UN refugee agency on Tuesday called for a halt to deportations of Afghan nationals, including asylum seekers, who have had their claims rejected, citing the country's rapid security and human rights deterioration.

The UNHCR said that due to the rapid security and human rights deterioration in large parts of Afghanistan and "the unfolding humanitarian emergency," it is calling on states "to halt forcible returns of Afghan nationals” previously determined “not to be in need of international protection."

"Since the beginning of the year, more than 550,000 Afghans have been internally displaced as a result of conflict and insecurity," said UNHCR spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo at a UN news conference.

"While civilians have so far only fled sporadically in fewer numbers to countries neighboring Afghanistan, the situation continues to evolve rapidly."

Speaking after the Taliban had begun seizing control of the Afghan capital Kabul, Mantoo said "the situation remains fluid and uncertain."

Not returning people to danger

The UN refugee agency continues its call for access to territories for civilians fleeing Afghanistan and to ensure respect for the principle of "non-refoulment" at all times -- the prohibition on returning people to situations of danger.

"States have a legal and moral responsibility to allow those fleeing Afghanistan to seek safety and not forcibly to return refugees," said the UNHCR spokeswoman.

"We're aware that several states have now suspended these deportations, which we very much welcome."

Mantoo cited Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland and said more countries might be stepping up.

Also, Robert Mardini, the director-general of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), highlighted actions impacting Afghan civilians in the conflict that has recently engulfed their country.

"Since 1 August, more than 7,600 patients wounded by weapons have been treated at ICRC-supported facilities around the country," said Mardini in a statement, adding: "More than 40,000 people wounded by weapons have been treated at ICRC-supported facilities in June, July, and August."

He said the ICRC had been present in Afghanistan since 1987, and it will continue to work "with the Afghan Red Crescent Society" to help those whose lives have been scarred by war.

"It is heartbreaking to see our wards filled with children and young men and women who have lost limbs," said Mardini.

"Red Cross teams and physical rehabilitation centers expect to receive patients for months and years to come as they recover from wounds from explosive devices that litter the country, many of them newly laid in recent weeks."

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