Thousands of Afghans left their country for the developed countries in search of better and secure future. The trend for asylum-seeking was introduced after the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979. Millions of Afghans left for Pakistan and Iran as first and easy destination and those who were well-off sought refuge in the European Union (EU) states, the United States, Canada and Australia. However, the repatriation process was kicked off after ouster of the Taliban from power some 15 years ago. Thousands returned home. The returning process was encouraging in the early years. The number of returnees decreased a few years ago. After establishment of the National Unity Government (NUG), there was a mass exodus. Thousands of Afghans living in despair left the country.
Blame the NUG for its failure to address the issue or the industrial countries for promising standard lifestyle, but the fact is that there is no decrease in the number of those who bid farewell to their country. Despite knowing the risks, they are ready to take the dangerous routes. There will be no end to it unless the root causes were addressed. Realizing this, the EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, urged the EU institutions to address the root causes of the migrant crisis. He emphasized on political solutions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria in a meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.
But, the EU commissioner had not pointed out the root causes. Even the Afghan government cannot highlight the root causes. Or maybe it knows, but deliberately keeping hush so its reputation would not be damaged further. There are different factors that are pushing Afghans, especially the youth to leave their native towns and villages forever or at least for many years. Insurgency is on top, followed by poverty, unemployment, industrial-scale corruption, injustice, maladministration, discrimination and double standard of the public representatives and high-ranking officials.
No one can deny the fact that insurgency is a serious threat to Afghan civilians. The unarmed civilians are killed, injured, kidnapped and threatened in nearly 70 per cent of the country. The reports about civilian casualties are good evidence with credibility to prove the claim. When civilians are defying the odds and dodging the landmines, mortar shells and militant groups, the leaders and bureaucrats are feeling safe in fortified cities and highly-barricaded offices.
Furthermore, poverty and unemployment is all times high. Local industries are crying for support. Several industries are on the verge of collapse. Women entrepreneurs are also lamenting over the cold-shoulder response of the government. Access to soft and long-term loan facility is a herculean task for them. Local job market is exhausted. The government has no policy to exploit the natural resources and create thousands of job opportunities. Recently, the public policymakers have initiated a program to create employment opportunities. But it is a short-term program and would not resolve the problem. Corruption, maladministration and injustice are other problems that are fueling the journey of youth to foreign lands.
Another important factor which is often ignored is that those leaders and officials are asking the youth to stay at their homeland who themselves were living in developed countries. Even today, families of most of these high-ups live abroad. Several officials and lawmakers are dual nationality holders. How can they motivate people to stay and work in Afghanistan when their own family members live in the EU, the US, Canada and Australia?
As the saying goes “honesty is the best policy”, therefore, the officials should renounce their second nationality and bring their families back to Afghanistan. They shall focus on the root causes; otherwise, we cannot deal with the migrant and refugee crisis.