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Afghan youths are seeking a new life in Europe

by Magnifico Sat Aug 29th, 2009 at 05:02:28 AM EST

According to an article and accompanying photo essay, "The Lost Boys of Afghanistan", in The New York Times, thousands of Afghan minors have come to European Union countries seeking asylum.

"The boys pose a challenge for European countries many of which have sent troops to fight in Afghanistan but whose publics question the rationale for the war."

Thousands of lone Afghan boys are making their way across Europe, a trend that has accelerated in the past two years as conditions for Afghan refugees become more difficult in countries like Iran and Pakistan. Although some are as young as 12, most are teenagers seeking an education and a future that is not possible in their own country, which is still struggling with poverty and violence eight years after the end of Taliban rule.

Estimates by the Separated Children in Europe Program have about 100,000 unaccompanied children from non-EU countries living in the EU. Many of the minors are not asking for "protection in any form."

The majority of the Afghan boys are winding up in Greece, which does not have a foster system for foreign minors so the boys live in tents, abandoned buildings, under bridges, and tunnels if they make it into the country. "Many are teenagers seeking an education and the future that has not materialized in their own country, which is still struggling with poverty and violence eight years after the end of Taliban rule."

The boys requesting asylum are overwhelming the Greek system. Some Afghan refugees that are intercepted by the Greek Coast Guard before making landfall and are "held in the port of Mytilini before their transfer to a detention facility." According to Greek officials, only 300 asylum seekers can be "accommodated".

The Afghan boys are also appearing in other European countries. Afghan minors have "requested asylum in Austria, Britain, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Germany". According to Blanche Tax, a senior policy officer at the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Brussels, those countries alone have received 3,090 asylum requests last year, "more than double the 1,489 requests in those countries in 2007".

In Italy, 24 Afghan teenagers were discovered sleeping in a sewer in Rome this spring, and last year two adolescents died in Italian ports -- one under a semitrailer in Venice and another inside a shipping container in Ancona...

And in Paris this year, Afghans for the first time outnumber sub-Saharan Africans as the biggest group of unaccompanied foreign minors to request admission to child protection services, said Charlotte Aveline, a senior adviser on child protection at City Hall.

And in Sweden, The Local reported waves of Afghan teens are seeking asylum in Malmö and other Swedish cities. "Many remain in limbo as most Swedish municipalities refuse to accept them."

After eight years of war led by the U.S. and backed by NATO, Afghan boys are looking for better life than faces them at home. They are fleeing their war torn home, explains the NY Times.

"Afghanistan is hemorrhaging its youth into Europe," said Pierre Henry, director of France Terre d'Asile, an organization that works with the European Union, the United Nations refugee agency and the French government on asylum affairs.

And still the fighting continues and Afghanistan's wounds worsen.

Thank you for bringing it up, Magnifico:  War IS a crime against humanity.    

These boys are just one look at the many human disasters we don't want to see, or know about, but are coming back to remind us we have to face them.  THEY are the 'externalized costs' of the last political ego trip, the last electronic gadget, or the last drug import.  

Forced migration marks people and leaves scars for life, which only get worse if you add mistreatment in 'free countries'.  Add that up to the permanent suffering and inestability of the war population that stays behind, to the stress disorders of the (offensive) returning military and their families and what do you get?  

Sick communities, sick whole countries, from sociopathically sick leaders!, where most people are not where they want to be, nor doing what they want to do! and are good at.  Geometrical WTF.

I don't know how we sleep at night... if it's not for our numbing out on the latest convenience.

Note how the nyt euphemizes and puts the blame in the past,
"...eight years after the end of Taliban rule."

instead of telling the truth:

After eight years of war led by the U.S. and backed by NATO,....

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sat Aug 29th, 2009 at 03:47:43 PM EST
According to a July article in the NY Times, "Running Out of Options, Afghans Pay for an Exit" —

Last year about 18,000 Afghans applied for asylum in Europe, a figure nearly double the 2007 total. The spike was the highest increase for any major country in 2008, according to the United Nations.

I've been unable to find how many Afghans were granted asylum in Europe and was unable to find how many Afghans asked for asylum in the U.S. However, if the low number of Iraqis the U.S. granted asylum serve as an example, I suspect the numbers of Afghans with asylum in the U.S. are very low.

More will be coming as the war continues endlessly.

Pakistan and other neighboring countries historically offered Afghans refuge during crises like the Soviet occupation. But today Pakistan faces an internal refugee crisis of its own. Iran, too, is cracking down, now deeming the Afghans economic migrants rather than victims of war and deporting about 700,000 last year.

I'm sure the Afghans are comforted that a bad local economy and not war was their reasons for leaving their homes.

by Magnifico on Sat Aug 29th, 2009 at 05:08:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On my way to the Paris meetup earlier this month I shared my compartment in the night train with an Afghan youth. He's not in Europe alone, he's here (well, in Dublin) with his family as a refugee. He's studying in the university and not doing badly. He has no nope or interest in going back to Afghanistan in the long term: he said the mentality of the people there is too backwards.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 29th, 2009 at 08:54:40 AM EST

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