As for now, India does not have a separate statute for refugees, and has been dealing with refugees on a case-by-case basis until now.
The Taliban took over Kabul on August 15. This prompted hundreds of Afghans to rush to the Hamid Karzai International Airport in order to flee the Islamic militant organisation’s impending rule. The visuals that came from the airport shocked the world. The visuals showed hundreds of people running on the airport tarmac, tying themselves to the wheels of an aircraft that was leaving Kabul. This situation has left the world in deep shock. With the future of Afghanistan looking uncertain, some nations have come forward and announced some policies on taking Afghan refugees. Take a look.
Number of refugees in the world
There are about 2.8 million Afghan refugees abroad as per the 2020 data. The highest number of refugees living abroad comes from Syria, at 6.8 million, UNHCR data reveals. “A refugee is defined as a person who has been forced “to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence”. They are afraid to return home and can’t return home. As per UNHCR, “war and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries.” A total of 68 percent of refugees displaced across borders come from these five countries–Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar.
Overall 82.4 million people were displaced worldwide at the end of 2020 because of conflicts, violence, persecution and human rights violations. As per the official data, Turkey takes in the most number of refugees, mostly from Syria, at over 4 million, as reported in The Indian Express.
Here’s what the US announced for refugees
The US Department of State announced the Priority 2 (P-2) designation on August 2. It grants US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) access to certain Afghan nationals and their eligible family members. The Department of State said in a statement, “The U.S. objective remains a peaceful, secure Afghanistan. However, in light of increased levels of Taliban violence, the U.S. government is working to provide certain Afghans, including those who worked with the United States, the opportunity for refugee resettlement to the United States.” The report also reveals that the US is expected to take in over 10,000 Afghan nationals, which will largely include people who helped the government.
The UK government, on August 18, announced that refugees who were forced to flee their home or faced threats/danger of any kind from Taliban will be able to set up home in the UK permanently. The UK government will resettle 5,000 Afghan nationals who are at risk due to the ongoing crisis during the first year of the resettlement scheme. It will give priority to women, girls and religious minorities. The UK overall aims to resettle 20,000 Afghan nationals through this scheme.
Most European nations are still apprehensive about taking in Afghan refugees fearing a migrant crisis that happened in 2015, when the picture of the body of the three-year-old Syrian boy, Alan Kurdi, lying face down on a beach near Bodrum, Turkey, became a symbol of the refugee crisis and how many refugees attempted to cross over to the West using water routes.
Austria, France and Sweden are other major destinations for Afghan refugees in Europe, according to Statista. Around 7,000 Afghans were given permanent or temporary legal status in the EU in the first quarter of 2021, reveals European Union report. At least 2,200 out of them were placed in Greece, 1,800 in France, 1,000 in Germany and around 700 in Italy.
What about India?
As for now, India does not have a separate statute for refugees, and has been dealing with refugees on a case-by-case basis until now. India didn’t sign in for 1951 Convention on Refugees or the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. In 2011, the Union government circulated to all states and Union Territories a Standard Operating Procedure to deal with foreign nationals who claimed to be refugees. But taking into account the current situation in Afghanistan, India has brought about a new category of e-visa for Afghan nationals with the help of which they can enter the country. The visas will be valid for six months only and yet don’t know what will happen once the visa expires.