EMN Ad-Hoc Query on Forced Returns to Afghanistan
Forced returns of rejected asylum seekers to Afghanistan have been heavily debated in Sweden. In this context, the Swedish Contact Point of the EMN has gathered and analyzed the information provided by 17 Member States, including Belgium, on this topic.
The following findings can be highlighted from the EMN ad hoc query on forced returns to Afghanistan:
- Nine countries, including Belgium, are carrying out forced returns to Afghanistan. Seven countries do not, for different reasons (numbers of Afghans are too small or inexistent, identification is difficult and travel documents can’t be obtained, the situation in Afghanistan doesn’t allow it, Afghans abscond before decision is taken on the application…).
- Seven countries have certain exemptions from forced returns to Afghanistan in place, or apply restrictions. Most commonly, such exemptions or restrictions apply to unaccompanied minors, minors and vulnerable persons. In Belgium, there is theoretically no restriction for women or families but such cases entail “more precaution and groundwork”. Belgium effectively only returns single men. Belgium never conducts forced returns of unaccompanied minors whatsoever the third country.
- The protection rates for Afghan asylum seekers vary considerably between the EU Member States (and Norway). First-instance decisions on asylum applications by Afghan nationals, 1st and 2nd quarter 2017 show a protection rate of 61,2% in Belgium compared to an average EU rate of 47,4%.
For additional information, including data on forced returns to Afghanistan by Member State, can be found in the compilation of answers as well as in the summary.