Afghanistan + 2 more

Coming Back to Afghanistan: Study on Deported Minors’ Return and Reintegration Needs in the Western region

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In Afghanistan, returns from Europe, from Gulf countries, and from Pakistan and Iran have increased since 2015, with mass returns from Pakistan shadowing returns from Iran. Yet, the constant stream of forced returns from Iran – annually at around 400,000 between 2007-2017 – urges cautious and attention. In 2018 nearly 800,000 undocumented Afghans returned or were deported from Iran. Among these large return numbers, research has high - lighted the presence of children, with a rise in the number of unaccompanied children since 2015, as well as children returned with their families.

This study contributes to charting a path forward to for a post-deportation protection framework adapted to the protection profiles and needs of unaccompanied minors, their families and communities of return. This population provides a concrete example of the humanitarian-development nexus that can be bridged to ensure that children do not leave unaccompanied out of necessity. To establish a protection system in areas of return requires a stronger understanding of the attitudes and practices around unaccompanied minors’ migration, screening their vulnerabilities, and exploring the possible models for community-based responses. This study does this and:

  • Provides actionable learning to inform more effective and relevant design, implementation, and adjustment of future interventions targeting minor deportees and their families.

  • Elevates the voices of deported children and their families, presenting direct input from respondents on the complexities, challenges, and nuances of lived experiences.

  • Presents an evidence base for advocacy efforts to target structural obstacles and opportunities to support minor deportees, their families and their communities.

Through conversations with 518 minor deportees, their families and key stakeholders supporting them, this study focuses on four communities of return in Herat and in Badghis, to draw lessons learned and operational recommendations for child-sensitive reintegration programming. The key recommendations are summarised below (table 0) and offer both a model for monitoring, evaluation and learning that can benefit all actors working on reintegration; and offers a model for a joint humanitarian-development nexus programming through a pilot study on minor deportees’ reintegration. The rationale behind these recommendations is discussed in the full report which reviews knowledge attitudes and practices (part 1), minor deportees’ reintegration needs (part 2) and a sustainable reintegration and post-return protection framework (part 3), before concluding on the way forward.