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Deportation of Afghan refugees in Austria

#Austria has been following hardline #refugee policies since 2015. The Austrian government had been regularly #deporting Afghan #asylumseekers since 2021, despite the worsening political condition of #Afghanistan under #Taliban rule. The Conservative-led government’s confining asylum policies have also been gaining popularity amongst the public.

The Austrian government’s restrictive refugee laws have drawn criticism from other parties, even from those within the coalition government. They used the narrative of internal security and increasing crime to tighten the regulations. They had previously deported underaged girls, claiming that asylum laws need to be respected above all. They also criticised the EU’s common policy for asylum and wanted to discourage refugees from fleeing Afghanistan. In 2021, Austria became one of the six nations that warned the #EU against halting the deportation of Afghans, prompting the public to call it a racially-motivated decision.

Racist and Islamophobic narratives have taken over the public discourse in Austria. The chief suspects in a murder case of a 13-year-old girl in #Vienna were from Afghanistan, which caused anti-immigrant feelings to rise amongst the public. The government fueled such sentiments, with Chancellor Sebastian Kurz claiming that "there will be no halt in deportations to Afghanistan and no relaxation of the asylum laws." The Green party, however, said that the situation regarding the crime is still unclear and should not be used to deport refugees to the war-torn area. Even the Austrian Constitutional Court has ruled that even rejected refugees can be sent back to Afghanistan in their present condition.

This has not stopped the anti-refugee stance. Kurz has insisted on improving the condition in Afghanistan rather than taking in any more refugees. They suggested that the EU should set up ‘Deportation Centres’ in countries near Afghanistan as an alternative to deportation. The present Austrian government continues to follow restrictive policies against Afghan refugees. Such blatant disregard for the rights of the Afghan people is both xenophobic and Islamophobic.

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