Since the beginning of the European refugee crisis, millions of refugees have reached Europe. Among them are many people from Afghanistan. But the chances for Afghan people to be granted asylum are relatively slim in comparison to other refugee groups.

This is despite the fact that Afghanistan is not a safe country. Many European countries issue strict travel warnings for Afghanistan, making it clear, that it is not safe for anyone. The possible risks are, among others, terrorist attacks, kidnappings, and assault.

At the same time, the same European countries continue to deport people seeking asylum back to Afghanistan, despite heavy protest from the public and human rights organisations. Some politicians have even gone so far as to describe it as a safe country of origin.

Pippa Woolnough from the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Jody Clarke from UNHCR Ireland and Fahima Faeq from the World Hazara Council talk about what this means for Afghan refugees and possible solutions to improve the situation of asylum seekers coming to Europe.

Among the Afghan refugees, the Hazara make up a large proportion. They make up about nine per cent of the Afghan population, living predominantly in the Bamiyan Valley. They are from (most likely) Mongolian heritage, which makes them easily distinguishable as they look very different from other ethnicities living in Afghanistan. This makes them a direct target of attacks. Religiously, they form a minority as Shia Muslims in predominantly Sunni Muslim Afghanistan.

The Immigrant Council of Ireland is a Non-Government Organisation working with refugees and immigrants. They are running anti-racism campaigns, fight for a better immigration system and put pressure on the government to fasten immigration proceedings and fulfill their promises regarding the refugee crisis. They are aware of ongoing problems of asylum seekers and seek to provide better answers while creating public awareness.

UNHCR Ireland has listed Afghans as a priority nationality in processing asylum applications on the basis of country of origin information, seeing them as de facto refugees due to their nationality. This stands in contrast to trends in other EU countries that are deporting Afghan nationals. They also have good insight into detention across Europe as they operate in a lot of countries and work together with the UN assistant mission in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries.

It is important to note, that the vast majority of people fleeing their homes are not coming to Europe. Instead they leave for other parts of their home country or neighbouring countries. Europe is only receiving a small percentage of the world’s refugees.