Deportation of Afghans from Dubai opposed by UN refugee agency

26 February 2002

Voicing opposition to the forced mass repatriation of Afghans living in Dubai, the United Nations refugee agency today called for a suspension of the practice.

A spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the agency was “very disappointed” following the deportation on Saturday of some 750 Afghans who had been living in the emirate.

“We are calling for the suspension of the deportation of Afghans back to their shattered homeland,” Kris Janowski told reporters in Geneva. He said that because UNHCR had no access to the deportees, it could not ascertain whether any of them had human rights or refugee protection concerns. “The same holds true of the many hundreds of Afghans who have been forcibly returned from Iran and Pakistan in recent weeks,” he added.

There are virtually no reception centres for deported Afghans, according to UNHCR. “They may arrive in places like Kabul or border zones and have no way to reach their home areas,” said Mr. Janowski. “Instead, they become displaced inside their own homeland, landing on the doorstep of already overstretched humanitarian agencies.”

While emphasizing the agency’s opposition to forcible returns to Afghanistan, the spokesman said UNHCR stood ready “to help those who decide to go back of their own free will.”

 

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