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Refuges welcome to Ukrainian prisons: What to do with the 5,000 Afghans?

Author : Anna Peshkova

Source : 112 Ukraine

Ukraine is preparing to receive 5,000 Afghan migrants
11:00, 8 September 2021

RBC-Ukraine

Ukraine is preparing to receive 5,000 Afghan migrants. There is nowhere to locate them so much that one of the options that the Ministry of Internal Affairs is considering is Ukrainian prisons. But there are other reasons why life in our country may not be easy. According to the current legislation, one-time assistance to refugees is only 17 UAH (0,6 USD).

The chilling despair of the Afghan refugees clinging to the chassis has melted the hearts of many Ukrainians. But exactly until the moment when they learned that our country is preparing to receive 5 thousand Afghans. Ukrainians in social networks express concern about whether refugees are vaccinated, and also fear an exacerbation of the crime situation in Ukraine. The reaction of some Odesa residents, who have already received 133 citizens of Afghanistan, is not much different from the reaction of residents of Novi Sanzhary in the midst of the coronavirus epidemic.

Related: Blinken thanks Ukraine for help with evacuation of people from Afghanistan

You can understand our citizens: recently, the French Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that one of the evacuees was a member of the Taliban. In addition, it is obvious to many that although the issue is about the deployment of Afghans on a "temporary" basis, there is nothing more permanent in the world than a "temporary" one. In most cases, migrants spend 8-15 years in refugee accommodation centers.

Where will the refugees be located?

Taking into account that in total about half a million refugees from Afghanistan are expected in the UN, 5,000 citizens for Ukraine is not much. The problem lies elsewhere: even these people have nowhere to accommodate.

Related: There are still Ukrainians in Afghanistan, Ukraine preparing planes for their return

The scandalous statement about the possible placement of refugees in prisons was made for a reason. Temporary accommodation centers in Zakarpattia and Odesa are designed for an average of 330-350 people and are already packed because every year our country receives about 1,500 applications for refugees. According to the refugees themselves, who arrived in Odesa in the first wave, they were offered to live in tents, since the base in Chernihiv is overcrowded.

Due to the complete lack of accommodation for refugees, some Afghans who already live in Ukraine organize aid "on their own" by sharing shelter, food, and clothing. The seller in the Odesa market, Akbarim Zalmay, became famous in the media, in whose three-room apartment there are now two families.

Suppose some of the citizens of Afghanistan will be able to settle in our country thanks to the diaspora. Parts promised to help Airbnb - presumably several hundred. What to do with the rest of the citizens of Afghanistan?

The Ministry of Internal Affairs proposed to consider the option of placing them in two closed institutions of the penitentiary system in the Kyiv region. These will not be "increased comfort" cameras designed by Denys Malyuska - there are only 33 of them throughout Ukraine. It is planned that the Afghans will be accommodated in ordinary cells. But - only after a major overhaul (the duration of which can only be guessed at). And only 3,000 Afghan refugees. Where the Ukrainian government lost at least another 1,500 migrants in its scheme is unclear.

Related: Taliban and its opposition fight for Afghan province of Panjshir

Why did we say “yes”

Pakistan, which already has more than 1.5 million Afghans, and Iran (just under a million) refuse to accept refugees. Turkey, to which almost 130,000 Afghans have already fled, has also fenced itself off from aid. Germany limited itself to a proposal to allocate 100 million euros in urgent financial assistance to other countries that will host migrants.

Countries with a fairly low standard of living, as well as countries in which the United States is actively investing, came to the aid of the Afghans. Ukraine is one of the most compassionate countries along with Albania, Qatar, Colombia, Kosovo, Costa Rica, Mexico, Rwanda, Uganda, and some other countries. Among the developed countries that are ready to shelter refugees are Great Britain and Canada, for which a quota has already been prescribed in the annual plan for the admission of all migrants.

Ukraine is not at all obliged to invite Afghans to the country if there is no opportunity to provide a decent life for the Afghans. It would be worth recalling the experience of Tajikistan, which in July allowed about 1.3 thousand Afghan refugees into the country and after that decided that there were no opportunities. Kazakhstan also refused to accept Afghans, despite the fact that in the 1920s Afghanistan gave the Kazakh people a refuge from the communists.

Ukraine is not at all welcoming towards refugees: since 2016, the annual quota has decreased at least 4 times. But for the sake of America's loyalty (and not at all for the Afghans themselves - we will talk about this a little later), it will still accept Afghans.

Insiders linked the decision to accept 5,000 refugees with Zelensky's visit to Washington. The US presidential administration also made no secret of the fact that they asked a number of countries to assess whether they are capable of hosting refugees.

Zelensky shouldn't rely so heavily on Biden, because practice shows that the United States is helping Ukraine only in the way that is beneficial to them, by providing loans for the purchase of American goods. But now we are not talking about that.

It must be admitted that Ukraine, unfortunately, is completely indifferent to 5,000 Afghan souls, who are becoming a bargaining chip for receiving political preferences from the superstate.

Related: Pope hopes many countries take Afghan refugees

How will migrants survive?

Even before the change of government, every third Afghan (and a total of 38 million in the country) was undernourished. Among children under five, according to UNICEF, every second person goes hungry. Ukrainians who strongly oppose the generous reception of Afghan migrants in the country will have to be disappointed. The prospects for improving the quality of life of Afghans in Ukraine are, alas, dubious.

Afghans will not be able to count not only on decent free housing in Ukraine but also on monthly payments. The only assistance provided for refugees "for the purchase of essential goods" is a one-time aid, and it can be received only after the refugee has acquired the appropriate status. It is 0,6 USD for adults. Moreover, getting such a truly incredible amount will not work right away: it is paid in two installments. Needless to say, almost no one applies for it.

How to maintain hygiene for at least six months before receiving this grandiose financial payment, how to dress is not clear. At the moment, Ukraine does not allocate any funds for this. Most migrants live only thanks to the help of their communities.

Related: Pope Francis expresses solidarity with Afghan refugees

Perhaps, in the current situation, the approaches will still change. Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to the head of the President’s Office, said that, "most likely," the Afghans would be supported for budgetary funds. But there are big doubts that the government will actually allow itself such a broad gesture. Indeed, in this case, we also discriminate against refugees from different countries who are already in Ukraine, and this is about 3,000 people. About the same number of people live in the country illegally and with a certificate of "person requiring additional protection" - the same that newly arrived Afghans will receive.

Taking into account such a stretch, which Ukraine found itself on, migrants should first of all count on the fact that they will receive funds from international organizations. Most of them will not be able to legally find a job for at least six months, during the period until the application for refugee status is considered. A certificate of the status of a "person in need of additional protection" does not give such a right - you need to obtain a special work permit. In the entire history of independent Ukraine, less than a hundred such permits have been issued. These certificates themselves are also quite short-term. And even after a migrant receives refugee status, he is likely to face problems with employment - such are the Ukrainian realities.

In theory, those who receive the status of a person in need of complementary protection will be able to count on medical assistance. But in connection with the medical reform, they do not have the opportunity to receive free emergency medical care. You also have to pay for administrative and judicial procedures.

It is very difficult to obtain an identification code and registration at the place of residence. This makes it incredibly difficult to enroll migrant children in educational institutions. Free Ukrainian language courses for migrants are not provided. Although it seems that such representatives of the Ze-team as Arestovych do not care at all - after all, he claims that the citizens of Afghanistan "are often more educated than the average Ukrainian."

Related: Taliban states to seize last Afghan province – Panjshir; rebels state fights continue

Ukraine is not the ultimate dream of Afghans

So far, only 65 Afghan citizens are known who, after arriving from Afghanistan in Ukraine in August, applied for refugee status. And this is not surprising, because, first of all, migrants hope to be in the European Union. Such illegal immigrants have recently been detained in the Chernivtsi region near the border with Romania.

The trend is also eloquently confirmed by the data of our migration service. According to them, about a hundred Afghans were registered in the country last year, while 43 left the country.

It is far from certain that even these 65 requests for refugee status will be satisfied. Usually, out of several thousand requests, only 100 to 150 applicants are recognized as those in need of additional protection, and only 50 people receive refugee status. For many, the procedure lasts for years, because they are refused and the cases go to the courts. According to lawyer Daryna Tolkach, once such a procedure lasted 18 years. All this time, Afghans will be very limited in their rights.

Related: Biden's Afghan catastrophe: Who is now boss in Central Asia?

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