Government forcibly returns of Afghan asylum seekers - Refugee Council
April 29, 2003

Government forcibly returns of Afghan asylum seekers

In response to news that the Government is forcibly returning Afghan asylum seekers, Margaret Lally, acting Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:

“It is far too early for forced returns to Afghanistan when there is very credible evidence that the country is not yet safe. The fact that coalition troops remain in the country is a strong indication in itself that the security situation in Afghanistan continues to be unstable. A climate of impunity exists in many areas and consequently people’s protection cannot be guaranteed.

“It also undermines the efforts of the British government and the international community as a whole to rebuild the country and develop good governance. The structures of law and order and security are still being established which means returning people at this time will actually worsen the situation.

“It takes time for a country to stabilise and become secure. Afghanistan has endured 23 years of civil war. Its infrastructure is therefore still extremely fragile and increased pressure from forcibly returning people will weaken it further.

“The Government should concentrate its efforts on the well-managed and sustainable voluntary returns programme, which is just finding its feet and should be given more time. A process where people return willingly, and with some assistance, will be more cost-effective and will lead to more durable solutions.”


For further information, contact the press office on 020 7840 4404 or email

Further information

Read the BBC’s online report