Refugees sailing in troubled waters | By Syed Fawad Ali Shah 

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Refugees sailing in troubled waters


THE Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan has become a ray of hope for many Afghan asylum seekers.

Afghans who have envisaged political asylum in other countries, such as Australia, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and European Union, for many years, seem to be realizing that the developments may benefit them.

This is largely due to the fact that a large number of Afghans live in western countries and they are bringing more and more Afghans there.

A campaign has been launched on social media, print media and electronic media to resettle Afghans.

Many NGOs working for human rights and refugee organizations are singing the song for resettling only Afghan refugees but they are forgetting the refugees from Iraq, Myanmar, Palestine, Syria, Africa and some other countries.

Millions of refugees from other countries have protested on social media as to why only Afghans are being resettled considering them oppressed which these organizations have turned their back on refugees from other countries.

Presently millions of refugees in Pakistan, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Turkey and Indonesia have been waiting for resettlement in countries such as the United States, Canada, the UK, Japan, Europe and New Zealand for more than a decade.

Bypassing these unfortunate souls, only Afghans are being resettled which seems to be discrimination.

As a refugee journalist, I see such resettlement as a violation of merit by depriving other migrants of their rights, as millions of refugees recognized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have lost hope while awaiting resettlement.

Thousands who have faced untold miseries for resettlement are being ignored by NGOs, and Western countries.

Almost all human rights NGOs and developed countries are giving undue importance to media as they would divert their attention to the issue which is highlighted in media and ignore what is considered less important by the media.

Many countries and NGOs working for human rights are blamed for ignoring research or practical work, they only care about what is being highlighted in the media.

I do not disagree with Afghan citizens, but as far as I know Afghan citizens, they prefer going to developed countries and acquire nationalities instead of living in their own country of birth.

Whether there is peace in Afghanistan or not, but Afghans will not like to live there at all, the occupation of Afghanistan by the Taliban and the threat from them today is just an excuse as Taliban are not harming anyone. In the past, the Taliban were uneducated.

Nowadays, the Taliban include highly educated people who are involved in the protection of human rights and the implementation of women’s rights in countries such as the United Nations, the United States, Europe, Australia and the UK.

Afghans also cry for resettlement in other countries because it is difficult for them to stay in Afghanistan due to financial difficulties.

Granting refugee status to a person with financial difficulties is a violation of human rights and UN rules and regulations.

Refugee status is given to those who are at risk for reasons such as persecution, war or violence, race, religion, nationality or opposition to national opinion or joining a particular group, but there is no such thing as terrorism in Afghanistan at the moment.

It is happening in Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Myanmar and African countries by ISIS Daesh group but not by Afghan Taliban. The world has not yet learned to differentiate between ISIS and the Afghan Taliban.

The ISIS is involved in killing of innocent people and terrorism, while the Afghan Taliban raise their voices for their rights and religion.

The Afghan Taliban do not fight anyone without a reason, nor do they assert their power in the same way as ISIS.

The solution is to reduce the number of refugees who have been living in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand for years.

Host countries and UNHCR (who signed the 1951 Refugee Convention) should be pressurized to resettle these refugees immediately in other countries.

Or a timeframe should be taken from these NGOs and countries for how long they will resettle after settling the refugees on their land. Because resettlement is the right of every refugee.

My suggestion is that if China and Russia also start resettling refugees in their countries by contributing to human rights laws, then half of the refugee crisis from all over the world can be resolved.

And if China and Russia take these steps, no one will be able to stop these two countries from becoming superpowers, and in the same way, these countries can take the crown of human rights. This will restore the lost ground of these two countries and they will be looked upon with respect.

Because at the moment, except Turkey, Iran and Pakistan, Arab countries have refused to resettle their Muslim refugees.

—The writer is a senior journalist, based in Islamabad.

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