Forced Deportations Leave Afghan Women in Dire Poverty – Global Issues

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Pakistan and Iran continue deporting Afghan refugees to their country of origin, leaving returnees in dire situations. Credit: Learning Together.
Pakistan and Iran continue deporting Afghan refugees to their country of origin, leaving returnees in dire situations. Credit: Learning Together.
  • Tuesday, July 09, 2024
  • Inter Press Service
  • The author is an Afghanistan-based female journalist, trained with Finnish support before the Taliban take-over. Her identity is withheld for security reasons

The deportation has left these individuals in a desperate situation, facing severe financial hardship, homelessness, and a lack of means to earn a living.

Mastora, 32, spent her entire life in Pakistan with her family, where her husband sold leather, and they lived comfortably. Now, forcibly returned to Afghanistan, they have left everything behind in Pakistan and have nothing. “We have no house, no means of livelihood, not even money for transportation, and the Taliban do not provide us any support,” says Mastora.

Seven women were interviewed for this report; three of them were forcibly returned from Iran and four from Pakistan. Mastora, a mother of five, was among the women interviewed.

She was born in Pakistan where her parents had moved 40 years ago from poverty-stricken Afghanistan in search of a better life.

Mastora and her family are among the hundreds of thousands of Afghans who have been expelled from Pakistan when last year the country suddenly announced a forced deportation of undocumented Afghan refugees from the country, uprooting families that have been living in Pakistan for decades.

Iran also decided to send back Afghan refugees living in the country.

Pakistan has expelled more than 500 000 Afghans in the first phase of the deportation in November last year. The country’s authorities have announced a second phase of expulsion to be carried out in July this year that would affect 800 000 Afghans who they claim are illegal migrants.

All the women interviewed had no place to live; only four had managed to rent a house after several days of living in misery. The government of Afghanistan has failed to provide them with any support. Of the seven women interviewed, only one had received 1800 afghani (equivalent to 23 euros) from the UN when she was departing from Pakistan.

The arrival of the deportees has had immediate impact on Kabul where the cost of rent and prices of real estate have risen significantly.

The reason why many Afghans fled to neighbouring Pakistan and Iran was largely due to economic collapse after the Taliban takeover of power, persecution faced by many and the ensuing harsh oppression of women under the hard-line Islamist Taliban regime.

Afghans are however, being forcibly returned to a country where the conditions have worsened.

Madina Azizi, a civil activist and law graduate fled to Afghanistan a year ago. “I was in Pakistan for over nine months”, she said, “and now I have been forced to return to Afghanistan and I fear for my security. In Pakistan I did not live from one day to the next in fear of the Taliban coming after me”, said Azizi

In addition to financial issues, the women are also deeply worried about their daughters’ future in Afghanistan where the Taliban have clamped down girls’ education.

Shakiba and Taj Begum have been deported from Pakistan. They are illiterate, but their husbands are well-educated, and according to them, that’s why they know the value of education.

“I was in Pakistan for seven years; my daughter is 16 years old, and she was studying in the 9th grade. In Pakistan, my husband and I were working to build the future of our children, but now we have nothing here, we have no job, we have no shelter, and I am worried about the future of my two daughters, says Shakiba. “

Begum also voices similar worries. “I was in Pakistan for four years. I have a daughter who was studying in grade 7 in Pakistan; my husband was a tailor. Our life was much better than it is now in Afghanistan. It’s been two weeks since we returned, and we haven’t found a home yet. We haven’t received any help. We are left wondering what to do.”

Malai, Feroza and Halima, deportees from Iran say they left Afghanistan after the Taliban took over power because they were no longer allowed to work. In Iran, however, they all had gainful employment. Malai worked as a cleaner with her husband, Feroza worked in a restaurant while Halima worked a hairdressing salon.

“Now we can barely manage our lives. If we are able to procure food for breakfast, we struggle to have some for the evening. When we are able to procure food for one day we have to portion it for the next day as well. We are living in great difficulties. We often have survived on tea and bread for days”, the women say.

The women have also recounted how their daughters and sons have no work and do not receive any support. The girls are not allowed to pursue further studies.

Due to the economic hardship and security risks facing the women who have been forced back into Afghanistan, immigration experts and women’s rights activists are calling on the Pakistani and Iranian authorities to halt the forced deportation of Afghans.

© Inter Press Service (2024) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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