The UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, recently released a non-return advisory for Afghanistan, calling for a bar on forced returns of Afghan nationals, including asylum seekers who have had their claims rejected.
In the wake of the rapid deterioration in the security and human rights situation in large parts of the country and the unfolding humanitarian emergency, the UNHCR called on states to halt forcible returns of Afghan nationals who have previously been determined not to require international protection.
The UN agency said it was concerned about the risk of human rights violations against civilians in this evolving context, including women and girls, those perceived to have a current or past association with the Afghan government, international organisations or with the international military forces.
Since the beginning of the year, more than 550,000 Afghans have been internally displaced as a result of conflict and insecurity. While civilians have so far only fled sporadically in fewer numbers to countries neighbouring Afghanistan, the situation continues to evolve rapidly.
As the situation remains fluid and uncertain, the UNHCR called for access to the territory to allow civilians fleeing Afghanistan and to ensure respect for the principle of non-refoulement at all times – the prohibition on returning people to situations of danger.
States have a legal and moral responsibility to allow those fleeing Afghanistan to seek safety and not forcibly return refugees, the UNHCR said.
It has welcomed the recent actions taken by several states to temporarily halt deportations of failed asylum-seekers.
The UNHCR's advisory against forced returns to Afghanistan remains in effect until security, rule of law and human rights conditions improve enough in the country to allow for safe and dignified returns.