Swiss asked to halt deportations to war-torn Afghanistan

Heavy fighting between Taliban militants and government forces has resumed around Kabul as the last US and Nato troops leave Afghanistan. The picture shows security officials and private militia patrolling a street in the city of Herat. Keystone/Jalil Rezayee

Pressure is growing on the Swiss government to halt deportations of rejected asylum seekers to Afghanistan.

This content was published on August 5, 2021 minutes

The State Secretariat for MigrationExternal link (SEM) confirmed that the Afghan government had requested a three-month suspension of forced repatriations due to renewed fighting and the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the Swiss government has no plans to change its deportation policy, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) newspaper reported on Thursday.

Nevertheless, the SEM said it was aware of the “tense situation in Afghanistan” following fighting between government troops and Taliban forces over the past few weeks.

It added that deportations would in practice only be carried out under “particularly favourable” conditions and in individual cases.

There are currently 168 rejected asylum seekers in Switzerland awaiting deportation, according to the NZZ. The last forced repatriations were implemented in 2019, the Swiss migration authorities are quoted as saying.

In recent weeks, several humanitarian organisations in Europe have warned against the repatriation of asylum seekers to war-torn Afghanistan, where violence has escalated as the United States and NATO forces withdraw.

Human rights

The European Court of Human Rights on Wednesday ordered a halt to deportations from Austria.

Norway, Sweden and Finland have suspended forced repatriations according the Swiss public radio SRF.

The Afghan community in Switzerland currently has about 20,000 members, and more than half of them have requested asylum. It is considered a relatively small and well-integrated group of refugees, the NZZ quotes a leading member of Switzerland’s cantonal migration authorities.

More than 300,000 Afghans have fled their country this year according to the United Nations.

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