06/21/2018, 18.02
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Thousands of Afghans return to a country where there is no peace

Since January, Turkey has repatriated 17,000 Afghans. So far this year, 330,000 Afghans have returned, millions in recent years, Afghan Minister says. Many find it hard to reintegrate, many live in poverty. Meanwhile, people continue to flee from Afghanistan. More than 100,000 have been displaced since january. For Father Moretti, it is “nonsense” to say that the war is over.

Kabul (AsiaNews) - The repatriation of thousands of Afghans is a nonsense because there is no peace in Afghanistan, this according to Fr Giuseppe Moretti, former parish priest in Kabul.

"If serious newspapers talk about continuous attacks, every other day – saying that 'the truce is already over', 'bloody habit, 'an increasingly hard war' - then the question is: Is this a war or what? If it is, how can we repatriate and justify repatriation? Can someone tell me what the word war means?”

Since January, Turkey has sent back about 17,000 Afghans. In the last two years, expulsion policies in Europe - justified by the claim that Afghanistan is a "safe" country - have sparked controversy and triggered NGO criticism. For example, in late 2017, some Lufthansa pilots refused to fly asylum seekers back to Afghanistan.

Yesterday, World Refugee Day, Afghanistan’s Minister for Refugees and Repatriation Sayed Hussain Alemi Balkhi said that in 2018 more than 900 Afghans returned of their free will from Europe, while 246 were deported.

"[W]e have 332,453 returnees from all over the world, from neighbours, Asian and European countries,” he said.

According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), more than 1.3 million Afghans returned home from Pakistan between 2012 and 2017, almost 400,000 from Iran, and another 67,000 from non-neighbouring countries (38.620 from Europe and Turkey).

More than 5.2 million Afghan refugees have returned to their militancy-plagued country over the past 16 years, mostly from Iran and Pakistan, China’s Xinhua news agency reports.

According to the IOM, many returnees live below the extreme poverty line. More than 100,000 sleep in tents or in the street, while another 474,000 are living with families and relatives.

“Often, particularly in urban environments, IDPs and returnees settle in so-called ‘informal settlements’ in close proximity to economic centres where the income earners of the family try to find daily labour,” said IOM Afghanistan Chief of Mission Laurence Hart, adding that “The conditions in these settlements are dire, with extremely low standards of hygiene and limited access to water”.

In the meantime, thousands of Afghans continue to leave their homes. According to the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Afghanistan is the second source of refugees in the world after Syria with 2.6 million at the end of 2017.

A total of 108,440 people were displaced in Afghanistan between 1 January and 13 May due to conflict and natural disasters.

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