Switzerland halts repatriations to Afghanistan

A member of the Afghan security forces stands guard during the incineration of seized illegal drugs on Wednesday. Keystone / Ghulamullah Habibi

Switzerland has suspended repatriations to Afghanistan “until further notice owing to the changed situation in the country”, according to the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).

This content was published on August 12, 2021 - 09:25

No new deportations of rejected asylum-seekers will be ordered, it said on Wednesday. Preparations for repatriation would only be continued in the case of people who had committed a criminal offence.

Afghanistan had asked Switzerland at the beginning of July to postpone the repatriation of rejected asylum-seekers for three months due to the advance of the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban and the Covid-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, Bern continued with forced repatriations to the war-torn country.

Aid organisations had long demanded that Switzerland stop repatriations to Afghanistan – as did Swiss Refugee Aid (SFH) earlier on Wednesday after Germany and the Netherlands said they would suspend repatriations.

Taliban surge

The security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated dramatically since the decision to withdraw international troops from the country in mid-April. The Taliban have captured five of the country’s 34 provincial capitals in less than a week.

Afghan security forces, which have been backed, trained and financed with billions of dollars in a 20-year-long Western military effort that included many EU countries, appear unable to cope with the Taliban offensive.

On Thursday Afghan government forces battled Taliban fighters in and around several cities, officials said, as the militants pressed on with their offensive that US intelligence believes could see them take over the capital, Kabul, within 90 days.

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