Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, May 24th, 2020

The Business of Displaced Souls

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The Business of Displaced Souls

As the issues of displacement of population, refugees and human smuggling and trafficking have already been dominating the Afghan society,the report on June 18, 2012, by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has raised further concerns for the country, whose people are highly dissatisfied of the situation and are ready to leave their homeland and find refuge at some place safe and sound. The report – "Global Trends 2011" says that Afghanistan remains the biggest producer of refugees, with 2.7 million. About 4.3 million people are newly displaced with 800,000 fleeing their countries and becoming refugees.

Antonio Guterres, UN's High Commissioner for Refugees, has said, "2011 saw suffering on an epic scale. For so many lives to have been thrown into turmoil over so short a space of time means enormous personal cost for all who were affected… We can be grateful only that the international system for protecting such people held firm for the most part and that borders stayed open.

These are testing times." It is really unfortunate to read the reports that show 2011 as one of the worst years. Though there have been many claims by the international and national authorities that the situation of peace and tranquility and standard of living of the people have changed for better, the facts and figures show just the opposite.

The numbers mentioned above clearly show that people are very much uncertain of their future and do not have any faith and believe on the government. Moreover, they seem to be skeptic of the Afghan officials' capability to shoulder the heavy burden of the responsibility after the international troops withdraw from the country, as they have witnessed how the resources and assistance have been wasted by them in corruption and administrative flaws.

When the refugees leave their country and set for some other countries, they have to face myriads of problems and they may even cause problems for the countries to which they move. On most of the occasions the refugees become the victim of human smuggling and trafficking. Both these phenomena have the capacity to endanger the lives of the people and their psychological health to a great extent. Human smuggling is defined as 'the facilitation, transportation, attempted transportation or illegal entry of a person or persons across an international border, in violation of one or more countries laws, either clandestinely or through deception, such as the use of fraudulent documents'.

The term is understood as and often used interchangeably with migrant smuggling, which is defined by the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime as "...the procurement, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit, of the illegal entry of a person into a state party of which the person is not a national"

Human smuggling takes place when the person being smuggled gets into any sort of agreement with the smuggler and gives his consent to be smuggled to the desired country. The agreement is basically decided on a particular amount of money that has to be paid by the customer to the smuggler after reaching to the destination.

Human smuggling is not the same as the human trafficking as both the concepts differ from each other in certain ways. In human trafficking the consent of the customer is not involved and they are trafficked from one place to another for certain purposes; throughout the process they serve as a commodity that can be bought and sold whether they agree upon it or not. In most of the cased they do not even realize that they are being bought and sold.

One of the most disturbing facts about both the phenomena is that they include the risk of life. The illegal ways that are adopted through the process include very risky attempts within which the people can easily lose their lives. However, the facts show that people consider this choice much better than the lives they are having in their own countries and happily agree to opt it. Another fact is that the people being smuggled or trafficked do not always involve young men. They also include children, women and even old people and this makes the process even more pathetic.

Both human traffickers and smugglers are the people who have earned a large sum of money by using the human beings as products and trading with their lives. Unfortunately, our country Afghanistan provides a ready ground for such evils. The arrest reports of 72 human traffickers and smugglers, revealed on Sunday, June 17, 2012, disclosed many tragic secrets.

The reports clearly show that such culprits are very much active in Afghan society and different other parts of the world to take advantage of the compulsions and misunderstandings of the refugees. In fact, after terrorism and drugs, human trafficking is considered the largest crime and the most lucrative business, with the involvement of the international groups and circles. The experts believe that the business is worth $4 billion annually and it has great demand and many customers in the countries like Afghanistan, people in Afghanistan are ready to sell their properties and set for these risky routes.

It is difficult for Afghanistan to fight against these evils. The dissatisfied, insecure and poverty stricken life has compelled the people to leave their motherland and run towards any country where they can find comfort. The series of civil wars and religious fanaticism have made the life miserable for most of the people and many have migrated out of the country, among them there are many who have opted for being smuggled and many others are trafficked.

Since the downfall of Taliban the circumstances are claimed to have improved but there are serious concerns about the withdrawal of international forces and return of instability. People are thinking of securing their lives by leaving the country and the human smugglers and traffickers have come to the scene to rescue them.

Both human smuggling and trafficking are serious crimes and all the ways that strengthen them must be checked properly through strong legal measures. At the same time Afghan government must make sure that ordinary people are provided the rudimentary requirements of life and stable political and social circumstances so that they should not go for these options. Ultimately, the real solution lies in a prosperous and peaceful Afghanistan, where people do not have threat of their lives and have a better standard of living.

Dilawar Sherzai is the permanent writer of the Daily outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at dilawar.sherzai@gmail.com

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