GHOR (SW) – Khalil, pseudonym for a young Ghor resident, dreamt for a better life away in Iran, but faced the worst time of his life in the journey to and stay over there.
Tired of insecurity, poverty and unemployment, Khalil felt prey to human traffickers who promised a safe journey to Iran. Still haunted by the bitter memories of the treacherous journey, Khalil said the human traffickers chose the Nimroz route for irregular migration to Iran.
He said up to 40 people were bundled up in vehicles with capacity for no more than ten people for this journey. The young man recalled a number of his companions lost contious on the way due to crippling hunger and thirst.
Even after reaching Iran, his ordeal did not end. After working as construction laborer for weeks at a high-rise building, Khalil was denied half of his salary, and the supervisor handed him over to the police. He tried his best to escape arrest, but the police managed to capture him, and transport him to ‘Sang Safaid’ camp. He said the Iranian security forces here took away all valuables from the Afghan refugees, and forced them to clean toilets, cloths and bed sheets.
After getting through all of this, Khalil returned to Afghanistan only to be compelled by the hardship of life here to try his luck once again. This time, the human traffickers promised him much better prospects for journey to Iran and work there. But, it turned out to be worst. He said the primary trafficker traded all Afghan migrants with another group of traffickers who demanded up to 200,000 Iranian tuman for their release and onward journey. “We were handed over to thieves who kept us hungry and thirsty for days and also physically beat us demanding us to call our families and demand money. Some of our companions lost their lives due to this torture”, he said.
Officials at the directorate of refugees and repatriation in Ghor said the deportees from Iran have heart-breaking stories of violence by the traffickers and border guards to share. Abdul Rauf Ghafori, head fo the directorate of refugees and repatriation, told Salam Watandar up to 1455 families of Ghor residents have been deported from Iran last year alone. “Most of the people who opt for travel to Iran are minors, and they are often exploited in many ways. When they are deported, they are either ill or disabled”.
When contacted, Abdul Hai Khatibi, provincial governor, said the state of the deported families is concerning. He said a number of Ghor residents embark on this treacherous journey on regular basis.
The National Referral Mechanism Mechanism (NRM) is a mechanism which is developed by the Afghan government’s High Commission to combat trafficking and smuggling. The purpose of this mechanism is to help government and NGOs to identify, refer, assist, and protect the VoTs and prosecute traffickers in a coordinated manner as outlined in the Afghanistan TiP Law 2017.
- Article 9 of the NRM states that victim of the trafficking of humans and trafficking of migrants should be entitled to following:
- Special services (physical, psychological, legal advice, education, residential)
- Providing updated information on their legal cases in connection with trafficking of humans and trafficking of migrants
- Assurances about safety of the family members of the victims of trafficking of humans and trafficking of migrants
- Assurances to the victims of trafficking of humans and trafficking of migrants about their legal cases
- Immunity for the victims of trafficking of humans and trafficking of migrants from harassment during police investigations
- Respect for proper demands by the victims of trafficking of humans and trafficking of migrants
The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has also raised concerns over the state of trafficking of humans and trafficking of migrants in the country. It blamed the raging conflict, poverty, the culture of impunity for the criminals and no respect for law have further aggravated the situation.
Mohammad Bilal Siddiqi, spokesman for the AIHRC, told SW lack of understanding about the law among the migrants and border guards is still resulting in harassment of the victims of the trafficking of humans and trafficking of migrants. He demanded the legal institutions to deal strictly with the traffickers.
Local officials in Ghor lament that many youngsters are still willing to take the risk of this treacherous journey despite rigorous information campaign on the dangers of the trafficking of humans and trafficking of migrants.