Change in asylum policy on Afghan families with minor children
Requests for asylum from Afghan families with minor children will no longer be rejected on the basis that they could ostensibly choose to settle in another part of Afghanistan. This according to a letter from Minister for Migration Harbers, which was presented to the House of Representatives. This change in policy follows the recently published thematic situation report from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Country Guidance Notes on Afghanistan from the European Asylum Support Office (EASO).
'In certain cases, Afghan nationals with well-founded fears of prosecution or a real risk of serious harm are able to settle elsewhere in Afghanistan. In Kabul, for instance. This does not, however, apply to everyone. Neither is it currently an obvious solution for families with minor children. Requests from such families will therefore no longer be answered with this internal protection alternative.'
The special asylum policy for Afghanistan will otherwise remain in effect. Various groups will retain their recognition as at-risk groups, including ethnic and religious minorities, LGBTI individuals, converts and Afghan journalists. At this time, no EU country has a policy of offering protection to all Afghan asylum seekers. Eurostat data shows that the percentage of asylum applications from Afghans approved by the Netherlands is comparable to that in countries including Sweden and the United Kingdom.
The latest ruling from the European Court of Human Rights states that the general security situation in Afghanistan is as troubling as ever. However, the Court also asserts that a repatriated Afghan national is not at real risk of serious harm by mere virtue of their presence in the country. Repatriation will therefore remain in effect for Afghan asylum seekers who are not granted protection in the Netherlands.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ recently released official country report on Iraq reveals that the security situation in Iraq has improved and ISIS has been routed from virtually the entire country. Based on these developments, the 15(c) designations for various provinces and districts have been lifted. A plausible origin from these areas is therefore no longer sufficient cause to issue a permit by itself. The fact that ISIS has been virtually driven out of Iraq represents a significant change in the security situation. As of yet, it is too early to conclude that this change will prove lasting enough to warrant re-evaluation of those residency permits previously granted on these grounds.