Over the past several days, at least nine Afghan nationals have been deported from Tajikistan, Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service, known locally as Radio Ozodi, reported on August 24.   

A reliable source reportedly told Radio Ozodi that deportation of Afghan refugees began at the end of last week.

“Security officers have brought the refugees to the border with Afghanistan and deported them from the country.  Why this situation arose, we do not know.  Some Afghan refugees have been summoned to local security departments for identity check, and some others were taken straight from home,” the source told Radio Liberty on the basis of anonymity. 

The wife of one of refugees said that her husband two days ago was summoned for an identity check and after that they took him to the border and transported to Afghanistan.  

“My husband had all his documents in order. He had the UNHCR asylum-seeker certificate, but despite this he was expelled from the country.  There was no court hearing regarding the deportation.    Now my husband is there in Afghanistan, and I am here in Tajikistan with three children.  Where to go and what to do I don't know,” the woman told Radio Ozodi on August 24.  

In accordance with Article 33 (Prohibition of expulsion or return) of the UN refugee Convention, no Contracting State shall expel or return ('refouler’) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

The benefit of the present provision may not, however, be claimed by a refugee whom there are reasonable grounds for regarding as a danger to the security of the country in which he is, or who, having been convicted by a final judgment of a particularly serious crime, constitutes a danger to the community of that country.

No Contracting State shall expel or return, in any manner whatsoever, a refugee to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality or political opinion.

The Committee on Refugees and Stateless Persons made the following comment: the turning back of a refugee to the frontiers of a country where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality or political opinion would be tantamount to delivering him into the hands of his persecutors.

Two other sources told Radio Ozodi that the number of deported persons could be much higher.  

A representative of UNHCR Office in Dushanbe said they are aware of the expulsion of the refugees and assured that an official statement about this will be published in the near future.  

Recall, after the Taliban takeover, Dushanbe initially said it would receive up to 100,000 Afghan refugees.  The UNHCR says that there were just over 8,500 Afghan refugees and asylum seekers in Tajikistan by this summer.  Of those, 5,700 reportedly arrived after the Taliban took over last August – a little over 5 percent of what Dushanbe committed to taking.  Even so, Tajikistan remains the only country in Central Asia to accept Afghans

Many Afghan refugees say they fled to Tajikistan fearing reprisal from the Taliban Movement.  “To return home means to die,” they say.

For many Afghan refugees, Tajikistan is a transit country on the way to third countries and they are trying to go from here to Canada or European countries. 

The Interior Ministry’s press center says protocols on violation of the rules of stay in the country were drawn up and filed with a court against 32 Afghan nationals.  “They have been fined, but nobody has been deported from the country,” the Interior Ministry’s press center said.