Greater than 2,000 Afghans nonetheless “arbitrarily detained” in UAE camp “precisely like a jail,” rights group says


Hundreds of Afghans who escaped their nation after the Taliban’s stunning 2021 takeover are nonetheless being “arbitrarily detained” in a camp within the United Arab Emirates with out truthful entry to processes by which they will apply for refugee standing, in response to a report launched Wednesday by Human Rights Watch.

Between 2,400 and a couple of,700 Afghans hoping to resettle in Western nations have been caught within the “Emirates Humanitarian Metropolis” for greater than 15 months with out freedom to go away the fenced housing complicated, at which circumstances have deteriorated considerably since they first arrived, the report mentioned.

“Emirati authorities have saved hundreds of Afghan asylum seekers locked up for over 15 months in cramped, depressing circumstances with no hope of progress on their instances,” mentioned Joey Shea, United Arab Emirates researcher at Human Rights Watch. “After enduring vital trauma fleeing Afghanistan, they’re dealing with additional trauma now, after spending nicely over a 12 months in limbo within the UAE.”

Following the collapse of the U.S.-backed authorities in Afghanistan on Aug. 15, 2021, the US and its companions evacuated hundreds of susceptible Afghans and their households at an unbelievable charge to different places around the globe, together with the U.S. and Canada. The UAE agreed to behave as an middleman nation and took in hundreds of people that had been then hoping to use for asylum safety in third nations. They had been transferred to a specifically designed lodging facility, the “Humanitarian Metropolis,” pending these onward strikes.

Amongst these nonetheless caught within the UAE camp are high-ranking officers from the earlier authorities and individuals who labored for U.S. government-affiliated entities or packages in Afghanistan. A few of these peoples’ asylum instances have been rejected, whereas different purposes are nonetheless pending as they lacked adequate documentation to be accepted by third nations.

One individual interviewed by HRW mentioned that they had labored as a safety guard on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, and one other within the laundromat of a U.S. airbase.

“The camp is precisely like a jail,” HRW quoted one of many Afghans on the camp as saying.

“The massive downside is we do not know our future and we do not know our vacation spot,” one other mentioned.

HRW didn’t identify the people, however mentioned it had “interviewed 16 Afghans detained within the Emirates Humanitarian Metropolis in October and November 2022, together with eight who beforehand labored sooner or later for U.S. government-affiliated entities or packages in Afghanistan.”

One Afghan man advised the group that authorities on the camp had advised him he wanted a visa to go away the camp. An analogous account was given to CBS Information in January by an Afghan man whose spouse and kids had been caught on the facility. He mentioned he was in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, however hadn’t been capable of see his spouse or youngsters only a few miles away for greater than a 12 months.

Every household on the camp has a one-room lodging.

“We’ve got been right here for 14 months, and life could be very troublesome… the identical room is used as a eating room, lounge, and sleeping room and the washroom is contained in the room,” mentioned a lady interviewed by HRW. Others spoke of poor sanitation, mattress bug infestations and housing complicated residents struggling with psychological and bodily well being issues.

These stranded on the facility have staged repeated protests, calling on the U.S. and its allies to relocate them to 3rd nations.

A video from January exhibits protesters chanting, “we would like justice,” whereas holding a white banner declaring themselves “forgotten” by the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service and the worldwide neighborhood.

In one other video, from mid-2022, youngsters contained in the camp maintain up a banner that reads “justice.”

HRW calls on the UAE authorities to right away grant the Afghan evacuees freedom to maneuver out and in of the camp and to make sure entry to truthful and individualized processes for refugee standing dedication and safety.

The group additionally calls on the US and different developed nations to urgently expedite the resettlement course of for these caught within the camp, and to generously take into account people’ instances as they search to reunited with their households, and discover secure new houses with entry to schooling and employment.

As CBS Information immigration reporter Camilo Montoya-Galvez reported in August, in contrast to greater than 70,000 Afghans who had been straight evacuated after which rapidly resettled by the U.S. in 2021 after some safety vetting, these dwelling within the Humanitarian Metropolis have been subjected to a slower, case-by-case immigration evaluate by U.S. officers that doesn’t embody any assure of U.S. resettlement.

Underneath U.S. coverage, Afghans evacuated to the UAE earlier than Aug. 31, 2021 – only a couple weeks after Kabul fell to the Taliban – had been successfully assured permission to enter the U.S. in the event that they handed sure medical and safety checks, the State Division advised CBS Information. However those that arrived after that date however want to be relocated to the U.S. should show they qualify for a U.S. immigration profit, akin to a visa or refugee standing.

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