Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation and IOM Mark International Migrants Day in Kabul

Date Published: 
Friday, December 18, 2015

In recognition of International Migrants Day, which is celebrated globally on 18 December, the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) held an event in Kabul on Monday.

The event brought together government officials, civil society organizations, humanitarian actors, academics and the international community to discuss the risks, challenges and opportunities of migration.

Migration is increasingly in the spotlight in Afghanistan. Approximately 150,000 Afghans have arrived in Europe seeking asylum since the beginning of the year. On their journey they face numerous dangers, and there are growing concerns about the impact this exodus will have on the country’s development.

Speaking at the event, His Excellency Former President Hamid Karzai encouraged the country’s youth to stay and contribute to the growth and prosperity of Afghanistan.

“If you want to earn money and improve yourself, then do not leave the country,” said Former President Karzai. “Instead, join forces with your country and make your efforts here.”

The Government of Afghanistan has taken a leading role in responding to migration issues, starting with the establishment of the High Commission on Migration. Speakers at the event highlighted the complexity of the migration issue and the need for a comprehensive approach to addressing migration challenges.

“Since the beginning of 2015, around 300,000 Afghans have returned back to the country, while on the on the other hand within the same period 150,000 Afghan refugees have applied for asylum in Europe due to lack of security and economic challenges,” said His Excellency Minister Sayed Hussain Alemi Balkhi at the event. “Considering the security situation in Afghanistan, Afghan refugees should be treated equally in adherence with international laws.”

“We increasingly talk about mixed migration – it’s harder and harder to tell who is a refugee, who is an economic migrant, who is perhaps a victim of trafficking” said IOM Afghanistan Chief of Mission Richard Danziger at the event. “People move for a mixture of motives – economic, security and more personal reasons.”

Concerns were also raised over the large number of unaccompanied minors arriving in Europe. Afghans currently make up the largest group of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum on the continent. Traveling alone, these minors face serious risks of exploitation and abuse.

“In the last week of October, 1,492 Afghan unaccompanied children arrived in Sweden,” said Mr. Danziger. “Many leave against their parents’ wishes, but we also know that many leave because they are the hope of their families and communities. We need to ensure that the parents who are sending or are likely to send their children abroad also receive support with finding livelihoods.”

The event also featured a theater performance portraying the drivers behind migration from Afghanistan and the deadly risks many face trying to reach Europe.

On 18 December 1990, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the international convention on the protection of the rights of migrant workers and members of their families. The General Assembly officially proclaimed International Migrants Day in 2000, taking into account the large and increasing number of migrants in the world.

For further information, please contact Nasir Ahmad Haidarzai at IOM Afghanistan (+93 794 100 542, nhaidarzai@iom.int) or Islamudin Jurat at the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation (+93 777 606 010, media@morr.gov.af).