UNHCR criticizes Tajikistan for ‘illegal’ Afghan refugee repatriations

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, has denounced Tajikistan for its continued “forced” repatriation of Afghan refugees. The Central Asian country reportedly continues to deport Afghans despite human rights abuses in their home country.

“Forcing people fleeing persecution to return to their country against their will is illegal and puts their lives at risk,” the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement. online declaration published on August 25.

UNHCR has expressed concern over the continued detention and forced expulsions of Afghan refugees from Tajikistan.

Tajikistan, the UN agency added, continues this practice despite ongoing human rights violations against civilians in Afghanistan, “including with regard to women and girls”.

A family deported despite the “intervention” of the UNHCR

A recent case, according to the UNHCR, concerns an Afghan family with three children who were forcibly repatriated to Afghanistan on August 23 through the Panji Poyon border post in southwestern Tajikistan despite “UNHCR intervention”.

“The forced return of refugees is against the law and runs counter to the principle of non-refoulement, a cornerstone of international refugee law,” the online statement read.

“We have consistently urged the authorities in Tajikistan to allow access to territory for those fleeing conflict and persecution in Afghanistan and to halt any further deportations,” said UNHCR’s Elizabeth Tan.

Half of Afghans face food insecurity

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), meanwhile, has expressed concern about the ability of returning Afghan refugees to earn a living.

Richard Trenchard, the FAO Representative in Afghanistan, highlighted the legal and physical risks faced by Afghan refugees upon returning to Afghanistan. They are compounded by current food insecurity, which worsened a year after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, Trenchard said.

To overcome this crisis, the American government announced that it would grant the FAO a grant of 80 million dollars (79.7 million euros). These funds will be used to “boost local food production, generate income and revive rural markets”, the FAO said in a statement. Press release August 25.

The objective is also to “achieve food security in the face of persistent drought and deep economic crisis”.

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