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13 October 2017

Asylum policy towards Afghanistan needs rethinking

The ongoing violence in Afghanistan leads medica mondiale to call on the German government to rethink its asylum policy. “The government has to immediately reconsider the current policy. People from Afghanistan need to be offered opportunities here in Germany instead of being forcibly sent back into the midst of a catastrophic situation that is in part due to the West and has no apparent prospect of resolution,” explained Monika Hauser after the serious attack in Kabul at the end of May, which led to 150 deaths. In the first six months of 2017 alone, more than 1600 civilians lost their lives in shootings and attacks in Afghanistan.

There were demonstrations by human rights groups in numerous German towns and cities calling for a stop to deportations, reminding the German government of its share of the political responsibility for the desolate situation in Afghanistan. In Cologne one of the speakers was Bele Grau, a former Afghanistan project officer at medica mondiale. For more than ten years she has been involved with the country and has observed how the threats to the civilian population have grown from year to year. She warns, however, that any judgment of the security situation there has to consider more than just military actions, bombs and attacks: the human rights situation is also an important criterion.

“In Afghanistan, courageous activists are working hard to bring about peace and justice in their country. However, their room for manoeuvre is constantly being reduced,” warns Ms Grau. “They need our continued support and solidarity. This also applies to all of the refugees from Afghanistan, who came here hoping to be able to live in peace and safety.” In reaction to the series of attacks, the German government cancelled its planned deportations to Afghanistan. In August the Ministry of the Interior and Foreign Office announced that Afghan refugees would only be sent back in exceptional cases. However, this did not equate to a fundamentally new assessment of the security situation.

Asylum and protections of refugees: Minimum standards are not enough

In June, the German Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) presented its revised “Minimum Standards for the Protection of Refugees in Refugee Accommodation Centres”. medica mondiale provided expert advice for the revision of these standards, which were originally drawn up by the BMFSFJ and UNICEF in 2016, ensuring the inclusion of issues such as sexualised violence against female refugees, the necessity of a trauma-sensitive approach, and support that empowers refugee women. The standards are intended to serve as a guideline for protection concepts in all refugee accommodation centres. However, these centres are not the direct responsibility of the central government but rather the individual federal states or local districts, so the standards are not binding. medica mondiale is therefore calling for an urgent change in the relevant laws.