Most of 200,000 unaccompanied child migrants are Afghans: Report
Over 200,000 unaccompanied children sought asylum in Europe over the past five years, with the highest percentage from Afghanistan.
In a new report by Save the Children, published on Wednesday and titled Protection Beyond Reach, the organization said that most unaccompanied children in Europe are from Afghanistan, while others are from Syria and some from Africa.
The report stated that the total number of children arriving is likely to be much higher, with many being forced into an existence in the shadows of Europe, at risk of exploitation and abuse.
In this five-year period, more than 700 children, including babies, lost their lives trying to reach European shores, during perilous journeys by sea.
While some of the children have been offered safety and protection, many struggle to get refugee status, live in constant fear of being deported or detained, and are unable to reunite with family members living elsewhere in Europe’ , the report stated.
Save the Children said many children are fleeing from countries facing ongoing or protracted crises. “The conflict in Afghanistan – where most unaccompanied children in Europe are from – remains among the deadliest for children, who make up almost a third of all casualties in the country.”
However, many EU countries have stated that Afghanistan is safe for the children to return to.
The report highlighted the mental health problems these children face and stated that they suffer nightmares and other symptoms of trauma and depression, including self-harm because of their experience in their country of origin and the arduous journey, their permits of stay being under constant review and their fears of being deported.
“While some improvements have been made, these are overshadowed by harsh border policies and measures to prevent vulnerable children from entering Europe altogether. Europe needs to draw lessons from the past. New migration policies should not come at the cost of children’s lives,” said Anita Bay Bundegaard, Director of Save the Children Europe.
According to Save the Children, most of the 200,000 unaccompanied children come from Afghanistan, Syria and Eritrea and end up staying in Germany, Greece, Italy and Sweden.
Save the Children has meanwhile called on the EU to ensure the rights of children are at the heart of asylum and migration decisions and for the EU and its leaders to ensure that steps are taken to keep vulnerable children safe.
“They must ensure that children can immediately access asylum and protection once they arrive in Europe, instead of being pushed back,” the report stated.
The report pointed out that in Greece particularly, limitations on freedom of movement prevents people from leaving the islands while their asylum claims are being processed. According to Save the Children, since August 2019, on average 10,000 children were stranded on the Greek islands in inhumane conditions.
Reliefweb meanwhile stated last month that 30,200 refugees and asylum-seekers reside on the Aegean islands. The majority of the population on the Aegean islands are from Afghanistan (48 percent), Syria (19 percent) and DRC (six percent).
Women account for 22 percent of the population, and children for 32 percent of whom nearly seven out of 10 are younger than 12 years old.
Approximately 12 percent of the children are unaccompanied or separated from their families and are mainly from Afghanistan
According to the report, discussions in Europe are no longer about the protection of asylum seekers but about the protection of borders and reducing the number of asylum seekers.
Save the Children said it believes that the best guarantee to keep children safe and protected is a continued investment in strong child protection systems, including as part of asylum and migration laws.
Former minister Tahir Zuhair calls on Afghans abroad to return home
Tahir Zuhair, a former minister in the previous government has called on Afghans who left the country to return home and urged those who are intent on driving conflict to resolve problems through dialogue.
Speaking at a gathering on Monday in Samangan province, Zuhair also called for unity among the people and for inclusion of all ethnic groups within the government structure.
Samangan officials, who attended the gathering organized to welcome Zuhair into the IEA, called on other key citizens to help develop the country by returning home.
Zuhair has now joined the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA). He said: “All those who left should come back and instead of calling each other bad [names] and spreading hatred, let’s find a way of understanding, let’s reconcile, let’s make peace, let’s negotiate and solve our problems through dialogue.”
Samangan provincial authorities reiterated calls for Afghans who fled the country to return.
“I am very sad for our Afghan brothers who have gone abroad, or those brothers who have fled to the mountains. Our request to all of them is that the leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has announced general amnesty, so return to your country and homeland, you are all our brothers,” said Abdulahad Fazli, governor of Samangan province.
“My message to all the opponents of the Islamic Emirate is to use the general amnesty decree of the leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to come and unite with the Islamic Emirate and use their energy, strength and understanding in the direction of consolidating the Islamic Emirate and in the direction of settling the country together with us,” said Ahmadullah Badar, Samangan police chief.
“Our message to all those who have gone abroad is that the arms of the Islamic Emirate are open to them to return to their country and serve for the development of the country,” said Mohammad Hashim Shafiq, provincial head of intelligence.
Zuhair meanwhile also said the Islamic Emirate needs to provide security and pave the way for the return of other political and social figures.
Zuhair said however that he has no intention of working in government.
Zuhair was the governor of Bamiyan before becoming the minister of information and culture under the previous government.
IEA’s Ebad tells G5 meeting in Iran no female worker banned in health sector
Health Minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) Dr. Qalandar Ebad said on Saturday that no female worker has been banned from working in the health sector.
Speaking at the 26th G5 High Level Experts Meeting on Health Cooperation in Tehran, Ebad denied the rumors and called it work of some selfish groups.
“Some selfish circles sometimes spread rumors with the intention of confusing the minds of the society that female health workers are banned from work; while all female workers provide health services to their compatriots in the light of Islamic and Sharia rules to ensure the health of female patients, mothers and children,” Ebad told the meeting.
Ebad also stated that cooperation in the field of health was important, especially in controlled infectious diseases.
“Diseases do not know borders, we must fight such types of phenomenon together,” Ebad said.
Ebad also spoke about the developments and achievements in the health sector and said that the public health ministry has now provided health services in areas where there had been none for years.
“We have now provided the opportunity to provide health services to our compatriots in these areas, in some areas there is still work to be done, so coordination and assistance is needed in this area,” Ebad said.
He also added that Afghanistan is a leading country in the implementation of the Corona vaccine and has made significant achievements in carrying out other routine vaccination and polio vaccination campaigns.
He meanwhile called for support of international partners to help Afghanistan to be represented in the International Health Assembly and the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Organization or EMRO.
“The international partners and the sympathetic countries of Afghanistan should help us in this area so that Afghanistan can be represented in the International Health Assembly and the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Organization or EMRO, which is the right of the Ministry of Health, with this, we will share our health priorities and needs with the international community and find solutions to them,” Ebad added.
The G5 meeting, in Tehran, has brought together Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Tajikistan to boost cooperation in the health sector.
IEA foreign minister meets with Pakistan Army Chief of Staff
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) said Sunday that Amir Khan Muttaqi met with General Asim Munir, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, and discussed regional security, ease of movement of people, and issues related to Afghan immigrants.
Pakistan media reported Munir stressed in the meeting with Muttaqi the need for enhanced cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan to “effectively” tackle the common challenges of terrorism and extremism.
According to a statement released by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Muttaqi, who is currently in Pakistan on a four-day visit, called on the army chief at his office in Rawalpindi.
The two discussed issues of mutual interest including aspects related to regional security, border management, and formalization of bilateral security mechanisms for improvement in the current security environment.
Pakistan’s army chief also reiterated the need for full support and commitment from the IEA in matters of mutual interest, Geo News reported.
During the meeting, both sides agreed on the importance of maintaining regular contact to strengthen bilateral ties and address issues of common concern.
Later, the army chief reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to a stable, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan.
Muttaqi and his delegation met with a number of leaders of Pakistan’s political parties on Saturday evening in Islamabad, including Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq and other leaders, and discussed bilateral relations and the regional situation.
Muttaqi also met with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, discussing about Afghanistan-Pakistan political-economic, commercial, transit relations and the creation of necessary facilities in these areas. Also, in the meeting, discussions were held regarding the easy movement of Afghan refugees and businessmen in Pakistan, IEA foreign ministry said.
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