Afghans constitute the second largest refugee population in the world with 2.6 million Afghan refugees registered globally. After almost continuous armed conflict since 1978, many of these individuals are in a ‘protracted refugee situation’ having been in refugee camps for over 40 years without access to what the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) calls ‘durable solutions’ (resettlement, return or local integration – see UNHCR Global Trends Report 2018 p.22 and 27). However, the recent escalation in the crisis in Afghanistan has seen the numbers of people being displaced reaching over 330,000 since the start of this year, according to UNHCR. Numbers of newly displaced persons are expected to rise to 500,000 over the coming weeks.(more…)
By Prof Elspeth Guild, Queen Mary University of London and Kathryn Allinson, Research Assistant, Queen Mary University of London and Teaching Associate, University of Bristol.
As the Covid-19 pandemic has tightened its grip on many western states, many refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants continue to be detained in reception and detention centres, without any prospect of release. With asylum processing at a standstill and returns to countries of origin on hold, detention of these individuals risks becoming arbitrary, if not inhumane.
“Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence”, states article 12(1) of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The liberty of movement is a human right – a right that has been severely curtailed since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In order to reduce disease dissemination, states worldwide have put in place severe travel and movement restrictions, affecting both internal and external travelling. Article 12(1) is a qualified right and so exceptions can be made in the context of public health necessity. These restrictions have resulted in lockdowns in countries around the world, confining people to their homes with only specific exceptions permitted. (more…)