Britain deports Afghan refugee children to death

This video says about itself:

16 April 2010 — Award-winning Afghan journalist Najibullah Quraishi investigates a sexual exploitation ring. The film exposes the lack of support from those in authority and explores possible responses to the plight of children in this conflict zone.

From the New Statesman in Britain:

Deporting lone children to Afghanistan is inhumane

Posted by Samira Shackle – 08 June 2010 09:45

Will a “reintegration centre” in Kabul guarantee the safety of unaccompanied children?

The Guardian reports today that the government is to set up a “reintegration centre” that will allow them to deport unaccompanied minors to Afghanistan.

Each month, the £4m centre in Kabul will accommodate 12 boys who are under 18, as well as providing “reintegration assistance” for 120 adults. According to the Guardian report, these plans are “part of a wider European move” to start removing children to Afghanistan.

This is a radical — and unwelcome — change in government policy. I have had close experience of the horrendous reality faced by those seeking asylum in the UK, through voluntary work and writing about the issue, and the treatment of unaccompanied children is frequently more humane than that faced by adults. Of course, there are instances when the Home Office refuses to believe their account of who they are or — crucially — their age, but child protection laws guarantee that they will not be left destitute and homeless.

While the default position for most adults — whether they are torture victims, or rape survivors — is disbelief, and a barely disguised wish to get rid of them (whether it is through deportation, detention, or enforced destitution), children who are in the UK without their parents are generally allowed to remain if their safety upon return cannot be guaranteed. According to Home Office figures, there are currently 4,200 of these unaccompanied children, many of them living in care homes.

We know that Afghanistan is unsafe and war-torn, because it is a war that we are fighting. It is very difficult to see how it is in a child’s best interests to be returned there. The plans give no indication of how long the children will be kept in the centre (with 12 new boys arriving every month, it will surely reach capacity at some point), what the conditions and pastoral care will be like, and what steps will be taken to locate their families.

Sadly, the move probably has two main motivations. The first is the automatic position of disbelief, outlined above. This characterised the Labour government’s attitude to asylum seekers, and looks set to continue to do so. Deporting children aged 16 or 17 removes the risk that they could be lying about their age.

The second is cost-cutting. A policy paper circulated in Brussels by the British government in February said that formal safeguards like guardianship are “immensely expensive to put in place”. Perhaps this is so, but isn’t it right that all possible precautions should be taken when dealing with children?

As Donna Covey of the Refugee Council points out: “There has been little said about how these children would be kept safe … if they have no family to whom they can be returned safely, should they be returned at all?”

Upon coming to power, the coalition government pledged to end the detention of children in UK immigration centres. That promise begins to look meaningless as it finalises plans to forcibly remove traumatised children with no adult protection to one of the world’s most dangerous places.

Thousands of children come to the UK to claim asylum every year – on their own. The government wants to send Afghan children home. Find out where the children come from: here.

Human-rights groups fought back on Tuesday against government plans to send back asylum-seekers young and old to the blood-soaked battle zones of Iraq and Afghanistan: here.

Anger as UK deports Iraqi refugees: UN refugee agency condemns removal of failed asylum seekers to Baghdad: here.

Whats led to Darfur asylum seeker’s prisoner suicide? Here.

The UN Refugee Agency has said that it would investigate claims by Iraqi asylum-seekers that they were mistreated by British officials before being deported to Iraq: here.

Voluntary refugee returns ‘plunge’: Few of world’s refugees opt to go home in 2009 due to ongoing conflicts: here.

War costs pass $1 trillion mark: here.

USA: Kucinich: ‘We may be funding our own killers in Afghanistan’: here.

Obama’s quagmire in Afghanistan: U.S. military position continues to deteriorate: here.

Report: Pakistani ISI backs Taliban: UK institution report says intelligence agency funds and trains Afghan fighters: here.

14 thoughts on “Britain deports Afghan refugee children to death

  1. Afghanistan vows to “set standards” on child labor in mines

    Michelle Nichols, Reuters August 12, 2011, 4:09 pm

    KABUL (Reuters) – For around $2 a day some Afghan children as young as 10 work long hours in the country’s coal mines with no safety gear and, until now, no government mining policy to protect them.

    While national law allows Afghan children to work up to 35 hours a week from the age of 14, they are not allowed to do hazardous jobs such as mining. But after 30 years of conflict and with many children the sole family breadwinners, aid and rights groups say the laws are flouted and not enforced.

    As Afghanistan tries to attract foreign investors to develop an estimated $3 trillion worth of untapped mineral deposits, Mines Minister Wahidullah Shahrani has been working to expand and clean up the industry and has drafted a policy officially setting the minimum age for coal mine workers at 18.

    “We drafted the first-ever social policy guidelines to make sure that when it comes to the labor force, and when it comes to health and safety, and most importantly on the issue of child labor, we will have some type of standards,” he told Reuters.

    “Previously we did not have any official policy at the Ministry of Mines.”

    The guidelines are due to be implemented in the next few months and mining inspectors would be employed to ensure the rules are upheld, Shahrani said. But critics have questioned the government’s capacity to manage the mining industry.

    Since Shahrani became minister at the start of 2010, he has drawn up the ministry’s first business plan and signed Afghanistan to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) as a candidate country. He was optimistic that by April 2012 Afghanistan would get full EITI compliant status.

    Afghanistan’s rich mineral deposits have been trumpeted as the key to future prosperity, but experts say the bounty is many years, even decades, away and point to massive security and infrastructure challenges for potential investors.

    The country however has already awarded a contract to China’s top copper producer, Jiangxi Copper Co, and China Metallurgical Group Corp for the big Aynak mine south of Kabul.

    Shahrani is due to award another large contract in November for what the government describes as Asia’s largest untapped iron ore deposit, the Hajigak mine, that straddles the provinces of Bamiyan, Parwan and Maidan Wardak.


    About 200 children were recently found working in coal mines in central Bamiyan province, according to separate studies by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and by the Child Protection Action Network, a joint initiative with aid groups including the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

    Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world, where children make up half the population, and a quarter of children die before the age of five.

    The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission found that children were working in some mines run by the government, which Shahrani acknowledged, although he said there was “not that many.” He blamed 30 years of conflict for pushing impoverished families to allow children to work in mines.

    “All those years have been a difficult period for the people,” he said.

    The U.S. Geological Survey has found Afghanistan has “moderate to potentially abundant” coal resources, although most of it is relatively deep or currently inaccessible.

    It is mainly used for powering small industries — such as cement production, textile manufacturing and food processing — and as a primary source of household fuel, it said.

    Child labor in Afghanistan is not restricted to mining.

    There are about 1.2 million Afghan children in part- or full-time work, the government says, in a country where war, poverty, widespread unemployment and a preference for large families have created a huge underage labor market.

    A 2010 study by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission found that an even larger portion of the country’s 15 million children — up to 40 percent — were likely to be engaged in some sort of paid work.

    Abdul Ahad Farzam, head of the commission in Bamiyan, said because many mines were often located in remote areas where children are exposed to the dangers associated with coal mining — cancer and respiratory illnesses caused by the dust and gases, which can also cause underground explosions.

    “We are afraid of child abuse because they stay all night and day there together (at the mines),” he said.

    (Additional reporting by Mirwais Harooni; Editing by Paul Tait and Ed Lane)


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