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Poor public services, employment make teenage asylum seekers run out of road

KABUL: Inadequate livelihood opportunities, lack of professional and vocational trainings, unbearable poverty, exponentially growing insecurity and encouragement of families by human traffickers to send their children illegally to European countries have resulted into serious and diverse effects on asylum seeking teenagers.

Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) in its recent research conducted in Kabul, Bamyan, Paktia and Nangarhar provinces about unaccompanied journey of children to Europe revealed that parents don’t hesitate in sending their school-age children on alone journey to developed countries to keep body and soul together.

The survey report covered over 68 families and government officials. Key objective of the research report was to find out that why parents send their children on the risky journey that could end their lives.

“Despite having information about risk of the journey, the families engage to send their sons to industrial countries because they saw the potential benefit outweighing the risks,” the report underlines the haunting reality.

Speaking at a joint press conference, the deputy chief of AREU, Mir Ahmad Joina, said the children dispatched on unaccompanied journey to destination of their choice imposed various levels of risks, harassment, torture and rights violation, either by the human traffickers or in the custody of police.

He pointed out that Afghanistan is a country in the world from where hundreds of teenagers are sent out to Europe without accompanied by anyone. The teenage asylum seekers are sent through dangerous routes. They are smuggled trough Iran and Turkey to Greece and then other European countries. They also cross life threatening oceans, Joina added.

“The children engaging in unaccompanied travel were generally male and age between 13 and 17. The children are motivated to engage in alone journeys due to combination of frequently inter-related factors including insecurity, lack of livelihood opportunities, employment, education and family expectations,” he said.

Joina said that thousands of jobless Afghan youth left for foreign countries but were faced with high-degree risks on their route.

Spokesman of the UNHCR in Kabul, Mohammad Nadir Farhad, said that unaccompanied journey of children to industrial countries has increased because asylum cases of children are accepted easily.

He said that 3,595 children sought asylum in 44 developed countries in 2013 while 5,700 teenagers submitted asylum cases in 2012. In the first half of 2014 around 19,000 Afghans lodged asylum applications in the 44 developed countries while 8,500 Afghans sought asylum in 2013.

The Afghan government was urged to launch nation-wide awareness campaigns about hazards of the unaccompanied journey and educate the children through youth’s and social media.

The government was also asked to provide better livelihood opportunities to public and initiate trainings that would empower the citizens and enable them to earn bread inland. (By Akhtar M. Nikzad)

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