UK Under Pressure Over Afghan Asylum Seekers Amid Civilian Deaths

Calls for the Home Office to stop returning asylum seekers to Afghanistan have intensified after a report that showed that the number of civilian casualties in the country exceeded 10,000 for the fourth year running in 2017. In all, 3,438 civilians were killed last year and 7,015 were wounded, according to a report released last week by the UN assistance mission in Afghanistan (Unama). The number of civilian casualties in 2017 was 9% lower than in 2016, which was the deadliest year on record, but the total was above 10,000 for the fourth consecutive year. More than a quarter of the deaths (27%) came in attacks directed at civilians. Vicki Aken, the Afghanistan director at humanitarian organisation the International Rescue Committee, described the figures as “unspeakable”.

Despite this, the Home Office still regularly returns asylum seekers to Kabul whose claims to remain in Britain have failed. In 2016, 785 people were returned from the UK to Afghanistan, and between 2007 and 2015, 2,018 people who had sought refuge in the UK as unaccompanied child asylum seekers were deported to Afghanistan, according to a report from Amnesty International.

Read more: Kate Lyons, Guardian,

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