I spent the night outside the Donner Pass town of Truckee. After 12 days on the California coast, it was surprising to see there was still plenty of snow in late June. I took the sharp right north on I-80 into Nevada—past Reno, Fernley, and landed in God-forsaken Winnemucca, where I stayed in one of the hemisphere’s ugliest RV parks. After dinner at possibly the greasiest Mexican restaurant ever, I walked through downtown, which had the saddest little strip of casinos in the (...)
UNHCR and Afghan Refugees in Turkey
A letter to Kabul Press editor Kamran Mir Hazar
Thursday 14 June 2012
Dear Mir Hazar,
Sensitive to the geographical position of Turkey, many Afghan refugees have fled their homeland and were forced to shelter in Turkey and the UNHCR to save their lives.
Although the UN has sufficient information regarding the problems of Afghan people,unfortunately the asylum process is delayed.
Accordance with the laws of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the ones who are recognized as refugees or asylum seekers, refugee organizations and the government seeking asylum in that country is obliged to provide facilities for them. But circumstances do not allow asylum seekers in Turkey to do any job and to earn a living for his family, instead, they are illegally busy to do hard labor, but if detected they would be forced to pay heavy fines. On the other hand, the High Commissioner for Refugees does not provide them any kind of financial support and the Turkish government Grant them a release in less developed cities where no suitable job opportunities are available for them. Most of these refugees are forcibly displaced in towns that are less developed in terms of industrial employment opportunities and the refugees are forced to do hard labor. These factors are forcing seekers forcibly captured in the hands of charities drop and compelled to beg for earning a living.
Afghan refugees have waited long after their formal acceptance from the UNHCR in Ankara and are still waiting to be displaced in the third country. And this waiting has lasted even to six years. There are people who have been waiting for more than four years after being accepted formally form the UN. But still they are waiting to be sent to the third country. Although in most of the cases people from other nations, after receiving formal acceptance by the UN, are specified for countries within less than three months and sent from Turkey within six months or a year.
The UNHCR officials present different reasons for not working and not proceeding the asylum seekers files to the immigrant countries; Sometimes these idleness is thrown on the immigrant countries. They say,” Those countries act politically” they accept the seekers from certain countries, while these countries reject the case.
They sometimes say that the refugees from the neighborhood of Turkey are given priority.
Sometimes lack of expertise and education are taken as excuse. Sometimes refugees into a kind of reasonable excuse (Special acceptable or accepted type B) to postpone until a few years.
The UNHCR is well aware that many Afghan refugees who have been registered with the UNHCR choose to go to the EU illegally. They wait for a long period of time hoping a change in their status, but that does not happen. You are also well aware that many Afghan refugee families from several cities left Turkey to enter the EU illegally because UNHCR invented a new law by creating the “specific acceptance situation,” or in Turkish, Özel kabul.
Around 5000 Afghan refugees living in 30 cities in Turkey, who signed this letter and just want clarity on the issue of whether we are equal to the seekers from other nationalities or not and don’t we have the same human right as the other nations have?
How do you respond as an immigrant to the statement the UNHCR Ankara Office gives "The countries act politically and accept certain nationalities”?
Shouldn’t we be introduced to the immigrant countries after taking refugee status by UNHCR?
Why shouldn’t we (Afghan asylum seekers) get to the immigrant countries as soon as the others do?
Why do the immigrant countries refuse us?
UNHCR must explain why the cases of Afghan refugees in Turkey take significantly longer to process compared to those of other refugees.
UNHCR must explain why the case of all Afghan refugees, which have been accepted already by UNHCR, are suspended within 5 to 7 years.
Problems of Afghan refugees after obtaining temporary residence in Turkey
1) The UNCHR causes our problems to increase by not proceeding our files quickly. This leaves irreparable harm in the lives of refugees. Afghan refugees wait for up to 7 years in inhuman conditions to get response from the UNHCR. While cases of non-Afghan refugees end less than two years and are sent to a third country.
2) Not preceding the files of the Afghan asylum seekers to the immigrant counties have caused seekers to wait for years. UNHCR office in Ankara, under various pretexts, does not send the files to the determination of the countries branch and say that those countries act politically. They accept the selected seekers from certain nationalities. According to the Human Rights commission, every asylum seeker, who has been recognized as refugee, should be behaved equally. But this is quite opposite in Turkey. Refugees from the certain nationalities are kept awaited for a very less time and they also get financial support from the UN. But this case is quite different for Afghan refugees. They wait for a long time for their files to be proceeded and are not supported financially from the UNHCR.
3) The financial support from the UNHCR reaches to only 1 out of 100. This support is only for selective people and the one whose case is refused, never benefit from any kind of financial support.
4) In some cases responding to the rejection of a refugee in the Van city is announced in Ankara or other cities and one waits for years to hear about the response to the application of asylum. In some cases the files which are vague to the UNHCR, are rejected without any enquiry about the case.
5) Sometimes, because of the proceeding a file, a seeker needs to go out of the city and take the file to the Ankara office, but the Turkish police except in certain cases or if the Ankara office asks, does not allow the seekers to get there and talk about their problems.
6) There is a law in the cities of Turkey that the asylum seeker is only a consumer and does not have any right to do financial activities. This causes a seeker to work illegally which has its own problems.
7) The UNHCR is only responsible for the seekers who have been accepted or are waiting for the response and the others remain deprived from the facilities of health, education and medical. Due to unfavorable financial condition, most of the refugees, especially the children, suffer from malnutrition.
8) It is very difficult in Turkey for the refugees to find shelter. No steps have been taken for the problems of the refugees nor from the UNHCR, neither from the Turkish government.
9) A refugee does not have any kind of recognition to make bank accounts or benefit from the services of the citizenship or even to use a cellular phone of his own.
10) The infant who are born in the families of the refugees, are not provided any kind of medical and health support and they live without any nationality and education until they leave Turkey.
We hope to see some positive changes about the problems and concerns we have raised here.Thank you in advance for considering this letter in a positive way; we are eagerly awaiting your response, and hope dearly that no legal action will need to be taken.
Coordination Group of Afghan Refugees in Turkey
+90 554 508 28 86
012 June 2012