06 February 2015

Norway will not return families with children who would face persecution in their home area to areas of Afghanistan where they do not have sufficient networks or resources.

Norway will only refuse the asylum applications of families who are deemed to be at risk in their home area on the basis that they can be reasonably expected to safely settle in another part of their country (the ‘Internal Flight Alternative’) if they have sufficient networks or resources in the part of the country where they are expected to settle.

The instructions of the Norwegian Ministry of Justice highlights previous submissions by Norway’s Directorate of Immigration that the humanitarian situation of Internally Displaced Persons in Afghanistan has deteriorated, with women and children being particularly vulnerable. It further refers to UNHCR guidelines calling for the Internal Flight Alternative in Afghanistan to only apply where the individual can expect to benefit from meaningful support of their own family, community or tribe in the area of possible relocation.

Norway commits to undertake a concrete and individual assessment of each case where internal displacement in Afghanistan may be relevant. 

However, families that have no place of former residence, or have not been to Afghanistan for a long time, will not be considered to fall within the amended practice. This means that families with children, and other vulnerable persons, who have never, or who have not been to Afghanistan for a long period of time, will be returned to Kabul without any internal flight considerations.

The new instructions have come out following a political scandal in Norway where it has been reported that the Ministry of Justice had kept private requests from the Afghanistan Ministry of Refugees and Returnees not to transfer any families with children back to Afghanistan.


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 This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 6 February 2015. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.