JAWZJAN (SW) – Young Jawzjan resident Ghafoor was forced by swelling violence in Qosh Tapa district of the province to flee to Iran for relatively secure life.
He together with a dozen of other war-weary Afghans went ahead on this treacherous journey of irregular migration in the quest of providing food for their families back home. On his way, Ghafoor fell prey to human traffickers who tried all sorts of physical and psychological torture on him.
This young former migrant told Salam Watandar the human traffickers held him captive with many more people like him without providing food or water. Ghafoor said he kept desperately dreaming for liberty while facing torture such as electric shocks in the captivity of human traffickers in Iran.
“They [human traffickers] would thrash and electrocute those migrants who did not pay them money. I paid three hundred thousand afghanis and got free after six months. I had already paid one hundred thousand to reach Iran and escaping from the border security check posts”, he said.
After being kept captive for six months, he was released upon paying the money only to be arrested by the Iranian police and deported to Afghanistan within 20 days.
Dejected by his ordeal in Iran, Ghafoor went on and continued his tale of despair, and said even women and children migrants were not spared by the human traffickers.
“Children were taken away from women, they were beaten for not paying money. They used to bundle 30 to 40 people in one truck. I saw two women get killed when the vehicle they were travelling in overturned", he said.
Back home, he is under the heavy burden of loan that he took from friends and relatives for the journey in the first place.
The Afghan officials at the directorate of refugees and repatriates in Jawzjan confirm the reports of physical abuse of migrants by the Iranian security forces and human traffickers.
Abdul Malik Rustami, head of the directorate of refugees and repatriates, told SW efforts are underway to identify and assist the victims of trafficking of humans and trafficking of migrants in the province who have returned from Iran. He added this assistance is also shared with the refugees voluntarily returning to Afghanistan.
“They have the IoM [International Organization of MIgration] cards and we register them with us and provide them cash support. Currently, we have some close to 50 such families registered with us. But, those who have no documents and have been forcefully deported, the Afghan government has no plan of support for them”, he said.
Hassan Salimi, regional head for IoM in Jawzjan, said in this regard that the victims of human trafficking are firstly identified and later assisted while as the culprits in this connection are dealt with by the judicial institutions.
“The law has diverse penalties for the different degrees of trafficking of humans. He said the a commission to combat the menace of trafficking of humans have been formed in all provinces that has on its board officials from the Ministry of Interior, NDS, Attorney General’s Office and some other members that have the authority to impose penalties including financial compensation”, he said.
The National Referral 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 12 of the NRM states following in regard to support for the victims of trafficking of humans and trafficking of migrants:
- In case of threat, the victims of trafficking of humans and trafficking of migrants shall be kept at safe place
- The victims of trafficking of humans and trafficking of migrants shall be provided with opportunities for education and vacation training
- In case the family of the victim of trafficking of humans and trafficking of migrants is linked to the issue directly or indirectly it should be kept separately at a safe place
Thousands of Afghans try their luck to migrate to Europe or Turkey, Iran and Pakistan through thorny journeys, but many fell prey to the human traffickers and only return back empty handed to face despair and dejection.