ISLAMABAD - The past year has seen a surge in the number of Afghan's seeking asylum abroad, and now the Taliban is urging countrymen to remain at home and is denying the militants are sending “threat letters” anymore.
In years past, the Afghan Taliban would sometimes send letters threatening Afghans accused of working with U.S. or NATO forces. But the militant group says that is no longer a practice, and Afghans seeking asylum are purchasing fake letters to bolster their claims for asylum abroad.
“With this notice the Islamic Emirate [the Taliban] wishes to inform all international Refugee organizations that the fabricated death threat letters being forwarded to them by the refugees have no verity and are sold to them by mafia groups for a meager price,” insisted the Taliban in a statement sent to journalists on Sunday.
It alleged insecurity, unemployment, rampant corruption and bad governance have all “plunged the country into deep crisis” forcing Afghans to undertake dangerous journeys to Europe and other countries in the hope of building a better life for their families.
It called on Afghans not to flee their motherland “towards the uncertainties of drowning in dark seas and being held prisoners in foreign lands” and defame the Taliban by presenting fake threat letters.
According to U.N. and European statistics for the third quarter of 2015, Afghans along with Syrians and Iraqis were among the top three citizenships who sought asylum for the first time in the EU, recording almost six times more asylum applications from Afghans compared to the same period in 2014.
Afghan leaders, including President Ashraf Ghani have in recent months repeatedly urged their countrymen not to leave and instead help in the reconstruction of war-ravaged Afghanistan.
Some European countries have tightened requirements for Afghans seeking asylum, making it more difficult for many to qualify as refugees. German officials have pledged to speed deportations of those Afghans who are classified as economic migrants.
Worsening security conditions in the wake of expansion of the Taliban insurgency, poverty, a struggling economy, corruption and unemployment at 24 percent are fueling skepticism among Afghans about promises of a bright future. Some critics point to a number of top Afghan officials and influential politicians whose own families are settled abroad.
The emergence of groups loyal to Islamic State in parts of eastern Afghanistan has also fueled security concerns.