Afghanistan – UKBA plans mass deportation to Kabul warzone
On Sunday, the Taliban launched their biggest assault on the Afghan capital, Kabul, in over a decade. Fighting continued over the weekend, and it is reported that gunshots can still be heard today (Monday 16 April) in the city.
Insurgents managed to infiltrate the supposedly secure diplomatic areas of the city (where foreign embassies and NATO are based), and were even in the vicinity of the Presidential palace.
There is no security in Kabul or the rest of Afghanistan, with over half a million people displaced by the war subsisting in camps: and yet the UK Border Agency is planning a mass deportation charter flight. The flight was due to take off from London at 00:10 hours on Tuesday 17 April. It has been cancelled…for now.
This latest attack demonstrates that nowhere – and no-one – is safe in Kabul. Private security staff, who escort individuals being forcibly removed from the UK, would seem to share this concern. A Guardian investigation has uncovered reports that eleven Reliance security guards have been suspended after refusing to fly on charter flights to Afghanistan, citing a lack of security provisions.
The United Nations Refugee Agency has stated that it is unable to provide for returning refugees, saying it’s programme in Afghanistan has been “the biggest mistake UNHCR ever made”. A recent Amnesty International report highlights how an escalation in fighting has left half a million Afghans internally displaced, struggling to survive in makeshift shelters, with around 400 more joining their ranks every single day. Kabul alone houses up to 35,000 displaced persons in 30 slum areas around the city.
And still the UK Border Agency claims that Afghanistan is safe. It claims it’s safe for young Afghans who made treacherous journeys to seek sanctuary in the UK. It claims it’s safe even though their asylum applications have not received proper scrutiny. It claims it’s safe for age- disputed children – some of these boys underwent age assessments (a key process in determining which legal process is applied and the level of support provided) that were not compliant with the law.
No information about the companies running these flights – which depart every few weeks – or the airport from which the flight will depart, is ever released. Many other refused Afghan asylum seekers will be booked on to the flight as ‘reserves’, only to be told at the last minute that they will receive a temporary reprieve.
The Home Affairs Select committee described this practice as ‘inhumane’. NCADC agrees. But what is also inhumane is the mass deportation of young men in need of protection to a war zone. It is shameful and unjust, and is a policy that the UK government is trying to hide through the use of hidden private flights.
We call on the government to cease these enforced removals immediately.