Last week a traffic accident in Turkey killed 39 immigrants mostly Afghans, on their way to Europe. In the same week, more than 40 Afghan immigrants staged a protest in an Irish cathedral threatening the authorities they would commit suicide if they were returned home. In 2002 and 2003, similar threats were given by other Afghan immigrants in Australia. Some even committed suicides, many sewed their lips in protest to the government's decision to deport them.
These immigrants travel illegally. Despite paying handsome amounts of money to traffickers, they face very dangerous situations. Facing thirst, hunger, cold, sleeplessness, long walks, they are often caught by authorities, tortured for illegal entry and deported.
You must be thinking, “These Afghans must be crazy; why, even after Afghanistan has a government and is relatively peaceful, are these people immigrating in such dangerous conditions?” The answer, as I have already pointed out in a previous post, lies in the economic, political and social conditions of Afghanistan. (See the State of Afghanistan)
With a high unemployment rate, inflation, low earnings, lack of suitable infrastructure, and a general feeling of insecurity, the people don't feel inclined to stay in that country. They can hardly support their families with their earnings in Afghanistan. Above all, they are disappointed. In my last year’s trip to Afghanistan, Abdul Qayoom, a returning refugee, told me, “We are treated like refugees in our own country,” speaking of the government’s neglect and inability to provide them shelter and other basic necessities. He continued, “We are disappointed.”
The hope that was built up in the Afghans after the Taliban’s ouster of a free, prosperous country with a better standard of living is now fading away as they realize that the Taliban and other armed groups are still at large in almost all parts of the country outside the capital Kabul and that they are increasing their control. The government they looked up to abounds with corruption and nepotism. The ISAF and American forces once considered by some as ‘friends’ are becoming abominable because of their ubiquitous tanks, patrolling on the streets causing road blockages and annoyance. Other incidents of mistreatment, rape and misuse of interpreters, villagers and other citizens are contributing towards this hard feeling and disappointment.
Consequently, a considerable number of repatriated refugees from Iran and Pakistan are now obtaining visas to go back to those countries to earn a livelihood for their families. Some, like those mentioned above, are risking their lives in a bid to earn citizenships in Europe for better lives, despite all the risks involved in the process and the prospect of deportation.
They are not crazy. They are desperate.
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