Afghan refugees in UAE protest over living facilities and slow resettlement


Afghans are crying for freedom at the Abu Dhabi settlement and demanding speedy resettlement to the United States or elsewhere.

US officials said anyone who qualifies will be resettled in the United States, while others will be resettled in third countries. (Reuters archive)

Afghan refugees and migrants living in limbo in a United Arab Emirates (UAE) settlement for nearly a year since being evacuated from Afghanistan have staged fresh protests against what they say is a slow and opaque resettlement process .

Hundreds of Afghans held banners and cried for freedom on Monday and Tuesday, two Afghans at the facility told Reuters news agency, estimating that thousands were still awaiting resettlement in the United States or other countries. third.

Images and videos shared with Reuters showed children, women and men protesting inside the Abu Dhabi facility, known as Emirates Humanitarian City, with temperatures in the Arab state of Gulf reaching 38 degrees Celsius.

A boy was holding a small banner that read, “One year is enough!

An Emirati official acknowledged in a written statement to Reuters that there were frustrations and that the resettlement process had taken longer than the UAE wanted.

The official said the UAE continued to work with the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi, the capital, to process Afghans housed at the facility so that they can be resettled “in a timely manner”.

“The UAE remains committed to this continued cooperation with the United States and other international partners to ensure Afghan evacuees can live in safety and dignity,” the official said.

“Almost a year we are here in detention and the camp is like a modern prison. No one is allowed to go out, they don’t know when (we) will be settled permanently in any country,” said said one of the Afghans. said on condition of anonymity.

Refugees talk about impact on mental health

Protests first erupted at the facility in February after the resettlement process appeared to stall, prompting a visit by a senior US State Department official who said all Afghans would be resettled from here august.

The process resumed shortly after the visit. At the time, there were around 12,000 Afghans at the Abu Dhabi facility and another site nearby. Since August of last year, the United States has received more than 85,000 Afghans, many of whom have been treated in the Middle East and Europe.

The two Afghans who spoke to Reuters said the mental health of those at the tightly controlled facility was deteriorating due to uncertainty about their future. Both said they did not know when they would be resettled.

The UAE official said those housed at the facility received “high quality housing, sanitation, health, clinical, counselling, education and catering services to ensure their well-being. “.

#AfghanEvac, a coalition of volunteer groups advocating on behalf of Afghans with the US government, wrote on Twitter after the protests broke out that the process was not stalled and that those at UAE facilities would be resettled in the United States or elsewhere.

UAE officials said the country had offered to temporarily host thousands of Afghans evacuated on behalf of the United States and other Western countries after the collapse of the Western-backed Afghan government and the seizure power by the Taliban.

Others arrived later on charter flights. The UAE, like other Gulf States, does not generally accept refugees.

US officials said anyone who qualifies will be resettled in the United States, while others will be resettled in third countries. No one would be forced to return to Afghanistan, US officials say, although some in the UAE have returned voluntarily after months of waiting.

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Source: Reuters


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