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Finland rules out Kabul as refuge for Afghan families with children

Afghan families with children applying for asylum will no longer be urged to seek refuge in Kabul, the Finnish Immigration Service said Wednesday.

Maahanmuuttoviraston palvelupiste.
The Finnish Immigration Service updated its deportation policy on Wednesday. Image: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) announced Wednesday that it had updated its policy on repatriations to Afghanistan. Henceforth the agency will not require families with children to attempt to relocate in the capital, Kabul.

Migri said that the prevailing circumstances in Kabul have made it less likely that citizens will be able to relocate to the capital to escape persecution or other disruptions in their native provinces.

"There are more internal refugees. Their situation is so difficult that the options for making a living are limited," said Migri Director General Jaana Vuorio.

She stressed however, that the agency's new policy would not change its assessment of families that are currently resident in Kabul.

As a result of its new approach, Migri said it will only be considering two groups of asylum seekers for repatriation to Afghanistan. They include healthy and able-bodied unmarried men who are not particularly vulnerable in any way, as well as healthy, childless married couples of working age who are not particularly vulnerable and have a safety net in Kabul.

However Migri noted it would not automatically assume that internal relocation is an option for asylum seekers belonging to either of these groups.

"An overall assessment is performed in all cases, and the possibility of internal flight is assessed individually," Migri said in a statement.

Processing of applications resumes

Last week Migri announced that it was temporarily suspending Afghan asylum decisions while it considered guidelines issued by the UN refugee agency concerning the situation in Afghanistan.

"The update was performed because, on 30 August 2018, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees published its guidelines on assessing the need for international protection of asylum seekers from Afghanistan," Migri noted.

The agency has now resumed processing applications, with around 760 asylum applicants currently awaiting decisions.

Human rights organisations such as Amnesty International have urged Finland on many occasions to completely cease deportations to Afghanistan.

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