LONDON - European countries are forcibly returning thousands of failed Afghan asylum seekers, knowing they are at serious risk of torture, kidnapping, death and other human rights abuses, according to Amnesty International.
The human rights group says the deportations are a ‘brazen violation’ of international law.
Between 2015 and 2016, European Union figures show the number of Afghans returned by European countries almost tripled, from just more than 3,000 to 9,500.
WATCH: Amnesty: Afghan Asylum-seekers Deported From Europe Face Death, Torture, Persecution
Amnesty International’s Audrey Gaughran told VOA the migrants are being sent back to a country still in the grip of war.
“2016 was the deadliest year on record in Afghanistan since monitoring began. And in 2016 there were 11,000 casualties. Thus far in 2017 the United Nations has recorded more than 16,000 security incidents. So people are being sent back in greater numbers as the situation in Afghanistan deteriorates.”
Many Afghan asylum seekers feel unfairly treated, compared to other nationalities.
Mohammed Jamshidi was deported to Kabul from Germany last month.
“In every corner of Europe, the priority is given to the people of Syria. They need only three months to get registered, but Afghans are deported after years of staying in Germany,” Jamshidi said at Kabul airport.
Amnesty highlighted cases of returned Afghans who were killed or injured in bomb attacks, and others left in fear of persecution for their religion or sexual orientation.Several were sent back to parts of Afghanistan they had never known. European governments justified these returns by claiming there were safe areas of the country.
“That’s just not true. You are not safe in Afghanistan in any province. But in addition to that, people are being returned to Afghanistan to places they’ve never seen before, that they don’t know anything about,” says Amnesty’s Gaughran.
Germany paused the return of Afghans in May, following a bomb attack in Kabul that killed 150 people and damaged the German embassy. Deportations resumed last month.
A spokesperson for the German Interior Ministry told VOA that each returnee is assessed on a case-by-case basis, adding the government disputes Amnesty’s assertion that there are no safe areas in Afghanistan.
A spokesperson for the European Union said deportation decisions are made by member state governments, not by Brussels.