Although violence between NATO forces and the Taliban has decreased substantially over the past few years, thousands of Afghan refugees continue to reside in refugee camps in neighboring countries, such as Turkey, for fear of returning to hostility and violent retribution. But while these people are safe from the threats they once faced at home, navigating the complex UNHCR refugee system is a new challenge.
In 2013, the UNHCR officially stopped accepting Afghan applications for refugee status, and froze those that were being processed. Doing so left those Afghans in a state of “legal limbo,” according to a recent Al Jazeera article, since they can’t work but also do not have the necessary funds or supplies to feed and support their children. Many families, like the Farhadis, who are featured in the article, have tried to cope with their situation by performing manual labor for a small fee or attending anti-UNHCR protests, but have exhausted their options and simply lost their will to live. We can only hope that the UNHCR will reinstate the thousands of Afghans as official refugees in the near future, so they may be resettled to third host nations, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and France.