As New Afghan Asylum Seekers in Europe Drop in Number, Stricter EU Refugee Policies Come to Light

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction in its October report (quarterly) has stated a new trend regarding Afghan asylum seekers in Europe.
Citing Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union (EU), it was pointed out that “19,640 first-time Afghan asylum seekers in the EU in the first eight months of 2018; the number of first-time Afghan asylum seekers to the EU has decreased significantly since the high point in 2015/2016.”

The cause? According to the Afghanistan Analysts Network, stronger border controls by European Union countries and stern asylum laws in Europe are the primary cause for the decrease in the number of Afghan asylum seekers.

The trends for asylum seekers who went to Pakistan and Iran are different. Their access to asylum was not as restricted as Europe.

The report by SIGAR notes “According to State (department), the Proof of Registration (POR) cards which confer refugee status to 1.4 million Afghans in Pakistan were set to expire on September 30. While State has been informed there are plans to extend the validity of the POR cards through June 30, 2019, the announcement on September 11 to dissolve Pakistan’s Ministry of States and Frontier Regions could complicate this effort.

However, in a move State called unprecedented, Pakistan’s newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan publicly pledged to offer Pakistani citizenship to Afghans and Bangladeshis born in Pakistan. State has no details regarding how and when this plan would be implemented.”

But as of September 26, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has identified 13,084 refugees that have voluntarily returned to Afghanistan in 2018, more than 10,000 of whom were returning from Pakistan.

However, the number of undocumented Afghan who have returned to Afghanistan from Iran stands at an all-time high.

SIGAR however ascribes the reason for majority cases of return to the economic factors of migration, “economic migrants leaving Iran because of the collapse of the value of Iran’s currency and resulting decrease in demand for unregulated labor.”

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