Afghanistan

Source: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/

Source: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/

 

The full report on Afghanistan is available for download here.

Geography and Population Statistics

Afghanistan (officially known as the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) is a landlocked state straddling part of South, phimosis Central and Western Asia. It borders China, more about Iran, sildenafil Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The North-western region towards Iran is mainly dry plains while the North-eastern border is delineated by the Hindu Kush. Afghanistan is rich in natural resources (e.g. natural gas, copper, coal and semiprecious stones).
Capital: The capital of Afghanistan is Kabul.
There are overall 34 administrative divisions, further divided into districts. Each province has its own capital and provincial administration.
Population: In 2011 its population was estimated at 32.4 million.
Ethnic distribution: There are altogether 8 ethnic groups. Pashtun (42%), Tajik (27%), Hazara (9%), Uzbek (9%), Aimak (4%), Turkmen (3%), Baloch (2%) and other (4%).
Religion: Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims.
Official languages: Dari (Persian) and Pashto.
However the main ethnic groups have maintained their traditional language which is spoken in the areas where they originate from (Uzbek, Arabic, Turkmen, Balochi, and Nuristani).

(Sources: CIA World Factbook, IOM, UNHCR)
Political situation
Afghanistan has a complex history, with the Soviet invasion (1979), the decade-long war thet followed and the civil war and rise of the Taliban (1994) characterizing the last thirty years.
Following the September 11th 2001 attack, the US and Allied forces invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban government. The 2001 Bonn Conference established a process for political reconstruction that included the adoption of a new constitution, presidential elections and National Assembly elections.
Hamid Karzai in 2004 became the first elected president of Afghanistan following the fall of the Taliban regime, re-elected in 2009.
Migration patterns and trends
• Decades of conflict have caused millions of Afghans to flee to neighboring countries and/or become Internally Displaced (IDPs).
• The Soviet invasion of 1978 and the decade to follow resulted in en masse movement that by 1990 was estimated to have reached 6.22 million
• Until recently, Pakistan and Iran were the main destination countries for Afghan refugees and migrants due to cultural ties (language and religion), job opportunities and a long tradition of cross-border mobility.
• Over 5 million Afghans have returned to Afghanistan (through UNHCR and IOM voluntary repatriation and assisted programs) since 2002.
• Over 3 million remain in exile, with 2.6 million in Pakistan alone (1.6 million are registered refugees, and 1 million are considered irregular migrants).
• UNHCR estimates there are still over 450,000 IDP’s in Afghanistan.
(Sources: UNHCR, IOM, Monsutti 2006, Kronenfeld 2011)

Migration to Greece
Migration and mobility are part and parcel of being an Afghan, inherent in their culture (Monsutti, 2006; Punjani, 2002).
Afghan migration to Greece is a relatively new phenomenon and is largely attributed to the policy shifts in Iran and Pakistan along with the internal situation in Afghanistan. The two main host countries of Afghan refugees and migrants until 2001 increasingly faced ‘asylum fatigue’ and began to push forward voluntary repatriation programs (UNHCR, 2012). Thus, when discussing Afghan migration to Greece, one needs to keep in mind that they arrive from three different sources: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran and depending on the country of origin, their needs and factors for migrating can differentiate. T Greece, functions more as a transit rather than a destination country; a stop-over towards other member-states in Europe preferred for their asylum system and assistance to vulnerable persons (??????????, 2012).
The crossing takes place from the land and sea borders with Turkey, usually with the assistance of smugglers. Arrivals range from single young men, to families and unaccompanied minors, the latter being a major source of concern in terms of protection. Exodus takes place via the ports of Patra and Igoumenitsa, and for families usually through the airports with ‘fake’ passports. Current situation in Greece, from racist violence to the economic crisis, have further exacerbated problems already faced by immigrants and refugees, and raising the question of return to Afghanistan or further movement towards other EU member-states in the hopes of some form of protection and assistance.

Selected bibliography
Edwards, D.B. (1986). ‘Marginality and migration: cultural dimensions of the Afghan refugee problem’. International Migration Review, 20 (2).
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Goodson, L. (2001). ‘Afghanistan’s Endless War: State failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban’. Seattle, University of Washington Press.
HRW (2002). ‘Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan Closed door policy: Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran’. 14 (2), Human Rights Watch.
Kronenfeld, D. A. (2008). “Afghan Refugees in Pakistan: not all refugees, not always in Pakistan, not necessarily Afghan?” Journal of Refugee Studies 21(1): 43-63.
Monsutti A. (2007). ‘Migration as a rite of passage: young Afghans building masculinity and adulthood in Iran’, Iranian Studies, 40 (2), pp. 167-185.
—- (2006). ‘Afghan Transnational Networks: Looking Beyond Repatriation’, Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, Kabul.
Punjani, S.(2002). ‘How ethno-religious identity influences the living conditions of Hazara and Pashtun Refugees in Peshawar, Pakistan’, Working Paper 14, Cambridge: MIT.
Saito, M. ((2009).“Searching for my homeland: dilemmas between borders. Experiences of young Afghans returning ‘home’ from Pakistan and Iran”. Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, Kabul.