Sweden’s tougher new line on refugees and asylum seekers undermines educators and destabilizes the lives of children who have already suffered terribly, write 300 teachers in newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.
“We demand that Sweden not go ahead with deportations to Afghanistan,” they write.
When the government signed a bilateral repatriation deal with Afghanistan earlier this month, Justice Minister Morgan Johansson hailed it as a “success for Sweden”.
Afghanistan has pledged to shield returning citizens from harassment and persecution, while Sweden will cover the transport costs as well as honouring an earlier promise to pay families up to 70,000 kronor ($8,000) to facilitate their return.
With Afghanistan agreeing to accept returnees, Sweden was free to begin deporting the 838 Afghans whose asylum applications had been rejected.
A further 36,000 Afghans are awaiting asylum rulings.
Unaccompanied minors can only be deported if family members or other guardians can give them a home.
“A few days ago one of our pupils received his deportation order. He is 15. In three years he will be deported to Afghanistan. He is far from alone and now risks spending years of his development at war, in refugee camps, underground, or on the run.”
With much of Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban, and institutional racism against Persian-speaking Hazaras commonplace, many of the young Afghans had never even set foot in their parents’ homeland, the teachers claim.
Instead many grew up in Iran, where they toiled as child workers without any rights.
“It would be shameful to deport children and youths en masse to Afghanistan. The government must immediately halt all such plans! What is a government even worth if if is incapable of protecting children in its own country and giving them hope for the future?”