A tale of despair from Kunduz to Izmir

KUNDUZ (SW) – Tired of war and economic hardships in Afghanistan, many young migrated from Kunduz dreamed to continue their education as well as finding employment opportunities abroad.

However, restriction on irregular migrants for such opportunities in the host countries have deprived them the chance to follow their dreams.

Zabihullah Kargar, 31-year-old, is a resident of Qala-e-Zal district in Kunduz province. He holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Kunduz University and has worked for some time at the Independent Election Commission’s regional office in the province. Zabihullah embarked on the path of irregular migration and entered Turkey after security threats from the Taliban. He has now been living in Izmir for three years.

Kargar wished to continue his education after arriving in Turkey while finding a suitable job, but due to the regulations and the coronavirus epidemic, he has not yet achieved his aspirations. Instead, his problems grew. According to Zabihullah, Turkish immigration laws are strict on migrants who have entered the country illegally, and no one can access large markets, hospitals, and restaurants without a permit.

He added that at the time of the spread of the coronavirus, he faced many problems and found it difficult to work, and in some cases, employers did not even pay workers the salary because they did not have the valid migration card. According to him, if the workers demanded their salary, their employers threatened them handing over to the police, who would then deport them to Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Sharafuddin Sharaf, provincial director of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Kunduz, said the main reasons for the return of migrants to the province last year were lack of access to work, harassment by police and the epidemic. According to him, during the pandemic, the IOM provided financial and non-financial assistance to more than one thousand migrants returning to the province.

He added that the International Organization for Migration (IOM) had also provided assistance to returnees who had no qualifications and had migrated irregularly.

On the other hand, Ghulam Sakhi Rasouli, the head of Kunduz immigrants and returnees department, said that at the time of the spread of the coronavirus, they had the highest number of returnees from Iran, Turkey, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. According to Rasouli, the returnees from these countries were engaged in hard labor, and quarantine restrictions in these countries forced them to return home.

He added that all migrants in foreign countries are waiting for the end of the war in Afghanistan and a peace agreement, and if peace is restored, they will return to the country.

According to officials from the Kunduz Department of Immigrants and Returnees, more than 14,000 people have returned to the province in the past year due to the coronavirus, of which 2,000 were with their families. The returnees at the country’s borders have also received assistance from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).