More than 2,000 Afghans in Tajikistan up against odds
KABUL (Pajhwok): Around 2,200 Afghan refugees are currently residing in Tajikistan, with few contemplating returning home, writes a French journalist.
The Afghans seeking resettlement in a third country through the United Nations refugee agency are getting increasing disappointed, according to Jeremie Berlioux.
In an article posted on EurasiaNet.Org’s website, the writer said resettlement was not a solution prioritised by the UN for the Afghan refugees in Tajikistan.
“So we do whatever we can to improve local integration where people can live with dignity,” Kevin Allen, a UNHCR representative in Tajikistan, was quoted as saying.
Vasidin Gardi, one the refugees, worked as an interpreter for the US forces before leaving Afghanistan. He said: “Some people were following me, I got questioned and beaten up, so I fled with my family.”
On reaching Tajikistan, Gardi contacted friends in Vahdat, a township of 45,000 people about 10 kilometers east of Dushanbe. Most Afghan migrants have settled in Vahdat.
He got a job in a friend’s garment shop -- a dark room in the basement of the bridge linking the two parts of the bazaar. But corrupt local officials often raid the Afghan businesses.
“They know where Afghans work and that we can’t do anything but pay,” Gardi complained. Although we have all documents, they always ask for a bribe.”
Muhammad Ayam, who owned a grocery shop in Afghanistan, had a similar story to share. “As soon as you have set up your shop, the authorities start to make trouble for you. They will take your business away or increase taxes and make money off you.”
The Afghans, who are not allowed to seek asylum at the border, must secure a visa and travel to Tajikistan. That has greatly limited the number of refugees coming to the country.
Gardi called housing a big problem for Afghans in Tajikistan. “The normal price for a two-room apartment is $50, yet we pay around $100, sometimes more.”
Afghans working in Tajikistan’s capital are required to commute daily to get out of Dushanbe by 8pm.
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