Despite the fact that some of them have been given asylum in other countries, Tajikistani officials appear to be rounding up Afghan refugees and forcing them to return to Afghanistan. According to accounts from Tajikistan’s 10,000-strong Afghan refugee population, recent round-ups of Afghan families seeking shelter in the country following the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021 resulted in people being picked up on the street and homes being inspected.
The UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, has asked Tajikistan’s authorities to end the forced deportations. It is unclear why they are doing this or what their aim is; until recently, the Tajikistani government was collaborating with the UNHCR to shelter and relocate Afghans fleeing the Taliban’s reign.
While information on recent Tajikistan deportations is not yet available, the UN has verified the forced repatriation of five Afghans on August 23. Despite UNHCR’s efforts to halt the deportations, ‘a family consisting of three children and their mother were deported to Afghanistan through the Panji Poyon border crossing in southern Tajikistan,’ according to the UN agency.
According to Afghans in Tajikistan who talked to the Guardian, the number of persons being forcefully deported back into Afghanistan is in the hundreds, and the frequency of forced deportations has increased in the last two weeks. They stated that many Afghan refugees were being deported without passports or other kinds of identification, leaving them stranded and unable to get to a safe location.
No one in Samira’s family has dared to leave their flat in a tiny town in northern Tajikistan for over a week. Her children have not attended school, and they do not feel comfortable enough to go shopping for food or medical supplies. Samira is scared of deportation, despite the fact that she and her family are ready to come to Canada. Her first worry is for her children, who have already gone through a lot. ‘The refugee life has been difficult for youngsters. They deserved a better future,’ she remarked.