Hundreds of failed asylum-seekers, including former child migrants, are to be sent back to Afghanistan after the Court of Appeal ruled that deportations can be resumed.
A blanket ban on deportations back to the war-ravaged country was imposed in August last year amid concerns that it was too dangerous. Swathes of territory are controlled by the Taliban, and Isis is establishing a foothold.
But Home Secretary Theresa May won a significant legal battle to restart the flights – even though last year was the bloodiest on record for civilian casualties in the country.
According to leaked documents obtained by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, even the Afghan government pleaded with the UK not to resume deportations.
The blanket ban imposed last year resulted from a case brought by a group of Afghan asylum-seekers, including HN, who was 14 when he entered the UK alone in 2007.
The Upper Tribunal had ruled that, while several provinces in Afghanistan were not secure, the capital Kabul was safe enough for returns. HN’s lawyers appealed and while the courts assessed this decision, judges agreed a rare blanket ban on all deportation flights to Afghanistan.
Special charter flights to Kabul will now take hundreds of Afghans back to their home country. The Home Office plans to deport even Afghans who hail from dangerous provinces, on the grounds that they can live safely in the capital.
Afghanistan’s Minister for Refugees and Repatriation told the Bureau that his country was particularly worried about the return of former child asylum-seekers.
He said: “People who lived in the UK for so many years till they became 18 are completely unfamiliar with Afghanistan’s situation and challenges and this can cause problems. UK government should have granted them asylum.”