Visa challenges impede Afghan women’s refuge in India: Report : The Tribune India

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Visa challenges impede Afghan women’s refuge in India: Report

Visa challenges impede Afghan women’s refuge in India: Report

The Women’s Regional Network unveil a report in New Delhi. TRIBUNE PHOTO



Tribune News Service

Anshita Mehra

New Delhi, April 13

In the wake of the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan in August, 2021, Afghan women have faced severe challenges, prompting many to seek refuge abroad, with India emerging as a destination of choice for these displaced women despite the lack of specific laws addressing refugee rights.

A recent report by the Women’s Regional Network sheds light on the plight of Afghan women, documenting a renewed stream of asylum seekers and migrants arriving in India over the past decade. The report highlights significant increase in asylum seekers and migrants from 2014 onwards, with a peak between 2016 and 2018. Despite a modest surge in asylum seekers following the Taliban’s takeover, India’s tightened visa policies have stemmed the expected flood to a trickle, with only about 3,000 Afghan cases registered by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) since August 2021.

The report also reveals alarming statistics, with around 71.5 per cent of the respondents reporting violence or threats from the Taliban or other non-state actors. Despite challenges, Afghan women’s resilience shines through as they navigate the complexities of displacement and seek to rebuild their lives in a foreign land.

The Afghan refugee communities in India are concentrated in specific pockets of Delhi’s NCR, where they draw economic and socio-cultural support from close-knit Afghan networks. These communities have transformed into mini-Kabuls, bustling with Afghan bakeries, restaurants, beauty parlours and welfare centres run by humanitarian organisations.

Despite the perception of India as a secure refuge, Afghan women continue to face challenges due to the absence of specific refugee laws. This limitation impedes their access to essential services and rights necessary for better living standards.

Based on the survey involving 200 women and girl respondents, only three possessed valid visas, while one respondent had an undetermined status in India. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) 2022 report indicates that from April to September 2022, 112 long-term visas were issued to minority groups from Afghanistan. In the preceding period, between April and December 2021, the MHA granted 237 long-term visas to minority communities from Afghanistan, primarily comprising Afghan Sikhs and Hindus.

Strict laws for asylum seekers

Despite a modest surge in asylum seekers following the Taliban’s takeover, India’s tightened visa policies have stemmed the expected flood to a trickle, with only about 3,000 Afghan cases registered by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) since August 2021

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