Hundreds of Afghans Demand Residency in Belgium
Sunday, 12 January 2014 17:22
Written by Mir Aqa
Hundred of Afghan asylum seekers in central Brussels are urging Belgian authorities to grant them residency permits, claiming Afghanistan is not safe enough for them to return.
Two hundreds Afghan asylum seekers occupied a church two months ago when their asylum request was rejected by the Belgium government.
A spokesperson for the Afghan refugees, Samir Hamdard, said "We are here to denounce our problem, to say that our country is not safe. We are afraid to die, to go back to die or to join a group of Al-Qaeda that is against humanity. So we want to be accepted here, to live here, to continue our life here."
Afghan refugee Marwa Mahloub, said "My children, they were born here in Belgium and they learned French. They are not speaking Dari, in our language. How can I take them back to Afghanistan even if they don’t understand Dari ?"
She added : "They are Belgians, they are born in Belgium. What should I do for them ? What is their mistake ?
Refugee rights activist in Belgium have asked the Belgian government to grant residency permits for these Afghan asylum seekers.
Refuge rights activist Aniruddha Das said "In Belgium’s own official writings, they discourage people from travelling... They discourage Belgian citizens from travelling to Afghanistan because it is not a safe place to go. And yet, they wish to send back people without looking at their claims properly saying, yes, this is safe. So it’s double standard going on here."
The priest of Church Saint John, Daniel Alliet, said "Regarding our general asylum policy, we’ve gone too far to the other side. The main aim is no longer to focus on who needs help but on how to minimize the number of people coming in. This is particularly the case with the Afghans."
He added : "Our position is that the government should ask an independent commission to research the situation. Until then we should not send anyone back."
The Afghanistan Foreign Ministry spokesperson on Sunday in a press conference in Kabul said that giving residency permit is the authority of the Belgian government and asked the Afghan asylum seekers to return to their country.
"When an asylum request is rejected not just one time but two and three times even four times, it is the decision of that country which has its own laws regulations and principles," said spokesman Janan Musazai.
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, more refugees fled Afghanistan in 2012 than any other country.
In September 2013 Head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Afghanistan, Richard Danziger, said that the IOM has helped get more than 100,400 Afghan experts and qualified professionals to return to their country to serve in government and non-government positions.
Danziger said efforts to return more refugees to Afghanistan were still underway.
In the past, there have been reports of the mistreatment of Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan, which are home to the largest portions of the global Afghan refugee population. However, increasingly, as coalition nations draw down their presence in Afghanistan in the lead up to the end of the NATO combat mission in 2014, problems for Afghan refugees have arisen in Western nations as well.