Afghan diaspora is referred to as people of Afghan origin residing outside of Afghanistan; it includes Afghan nationals that have either migrated to foreign countries or are born out of their home country. Afghan diaspora is majorly formulated by refugees who fled Afghanistan after the ignition of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979. Native Afghan individuals reside all over Europe, with Germany hosting the largest Afghan community on the continent. Between 1992 and 2002, Germany received 57,000 asylum requests from Afghans in Europe; as of 2020, nearly 271,800 Afghan citizens reside in Germany.
The contemporary situation in Afghanistan and the fall of the Kabul government has heightened fears of the re-emergence of the 2015 migrant crises in Germany; half a million people applied for asylum in 2015, followed by 750,000 more in the subsequent years. As of 25th August 2021, Angela Markel remarked that Germany is carrying out an effort to help escape the vulnerable Afghan population, particularly those who assisted German local forces and worked for a safe and free country with future prospects. By the end of August, Germany helped in fleeing more than 4500 people out of Afghanistan; German Afghans are also consumed with supporting their families, friends, and acquaintances that have yet to flee.
Germany as the top destination for Afghan refugees: opportunities and concerns
Lotta Schwedler, a spokesperson for the Refugee Council of Brandenburg, stated that it is unlikely that the 2015 situation will repeat as Afghanistan is not Syria. Therefore, rather than spreading panic and the conjuring wave of an Afghan refugee, Germany should lead by example and give Afghan nationals a chance to stay. Dr. Yahya Wardak is working under the aegis of AFGHANIC to support the integration and assimilation of Afghan citizens in Germany and provide healthcare services in Afghanistan.
However, Dr. Yahya has expressed difficulties in supporting Afghans, mainly because of the efforts of the EU to drive refugees away from the European continent. The EU and its member countries are determined to jointly prevent the recurrence of large-scale, unlawful, and uncontrolled migration movements faced in the past; preventive measures include closing external EU borders and preventing unauthorized entries.
Maria Hosein-Habibi, the associate director of VAFO (the Association of Afghan Organization in Germany), is also working to provide greater voice and visibility for the Afghan diaspora and experts from Germany and Afghanistan. Moreover, VAFO is lobbying to enhance the negotiation process and evacuate Afghans, especially in the wake of flights returning to Germany with fewer immigrants. The association has also called on the German government to preserve minority rights and propagate human rights at the political level. Maria is also pushing for continued talks between Germany and the Taliban to enhance the probability for a negotiated outcome; isolationist politics is not a viable option as it leads to the deterioration of civil society.
Hamburg- a natural gateway to world for Afghans?
Although it seems improbable that large-scale evacuation will occur immediately, Germany has remained a natural destination for Afghan refugees due to its large heterogeneous Afghan community. As of 2019, the Afghan population in Germany is the 9th largest foreign background community in the world; nevertheless, associations and bodies representing Afghans are relatively low in number.
The migration of refugees in Germany occurred in waves; with the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979, the Afghan population in Western Germany grew to 11,000. The second wave initiated in the 1990s with a fivefold increase in Afghan refugees by 1994. The number rapidly multiplied in the aftermath of the European migrant crises, surging to 75,000 in 2014. Prior to immigration waves, Afghan had ties with north Germany due to Hamburg’s significance in the global trading network. In the aftermath of WWII, Afghan merchants came to Germany to carry out businesses and trade.
Individuals of Afghan descent born in Germany generally find it difficult to compare Hamburg and Kabul. They view the former as an extremely beautiful sprawling European city; for them, the latter, although not the prettiest, has a hospitable environment. Steindamm area in Hamburg has the highest concentration of Afghans, sufficient for them to describe it as ‘little Kabul.’
Heightened fear amongst German Afghans and fleeing individuals
Although German Afghans have not experienced life in Afghanistan, the recent have had a toll on them. The situation is even graver for immigrants because they are likely to face obstacles while processing their applications and receiving supports. For several years, Afghan refugees have been granted limited rights, especially in terms of access to courses and support; in part, this is related to the security dimension associated with Afghanistan. Moreover, delay in the application process negatively impacts asylum seeker’s ability to harness opportunities, such as education and access to employment. Dr. Yahya Khan recalls his arrival in Germany; he states that he had to wait for a decade before he could work or learn the language, which made life in Hamburg even harder than in Afghanistan. Lastly, Afghan Germans believe their representation in society is extremely low. Main reasons behind this mainstream representation of Afghanistan as negative in media and political discourse.
Integration of Afghan that has migrated on the German soil currently remains on the country’s political agenda, only a few days before parliamentary elections on 26th September 2021. Annette Widmann-Mauz has assured access of Afghan refugees to integration offers and support structures in the municipalities. A German employment agency has revealed that Afghan nations in Germany have a high success rate in the labor market; however, several mistakes were made in the past. The main reason is that as a group, Afghans did not have a good image, and prospects for staying were below 50%. In order to increase the assimilation rate of Afghans in German society, the following measures must be taken:
Written By: Olivium's Editor