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Tajikistan deports Afghan refugees despite asylum

London, UK Updated: Sep 09, 2022, 06:44 PM(IST)

Tajik service members take part in a military parade near the border with Afghanistan Photograph:( Reuters )

Despite some of them having been granted asylum in other nations, the Tajikistani authorities are apparently gathering up Afghan refugees and forcing them to cross the border back into Afghanistan.

According to reports from Tajikistan's 10,000-strong Afghan refugee community, recent round-ups of Afghan families who have sought asylum in the nation since the Taliban's takeover in August 2021 have resulted in people being picked up off the street and homes being searched.

The Tajikistani government has been urged to halt the forced deportations by the UNHCR, the UN organisation for refugees. It is unclear why they are doing this or what their strategy is; up until a few weeks ago, the Tajikistani government was working with the UNHCR to house and resettle Afghans who were escaping the rule of the Taliban.

While statistics on recent Tajikistan deportations are not yet available, the UN has documented a case of five Afghans being forced to return on August 23. In spite of UNHCR's efforts to stop the deportations, they included "a family consisting of three children and their mother, [and] were deported to Afghanistan through the Panji Poyon border gate in southern Tajikistan," the UN agency said.

According to Afghans in Tajikistan who spoke to the Guardian, the number of people being forcibly deported back into Afghanistan amounts in the hundreds, and the number of forced deportations has been rising over the previous two weeks. They claimed that many Afghan refugees were being sent back without passports or other forms of identification, leaving them on their own and unable to travel to a place of safety.

No one in Samira's family has dared to leave their apartment in a small village in northern Tajikistan for nearly a week. Her kids haven't gone to school, and they don't feel secure enough to go buy food or necessities for their health.

Samira is terrified of the deportations even though she and her family are also just about to immigrate to Canada. Her biggest concern is for her kids, who have already been through a great deal of trauma. “The refugee life has been hard on children. They deserved a better future,” she said.

(with inputs from agencies)

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