KABUL — A surge of failed Afghan asylum seekers "forcibly" returned from Europe are at risk of torture, kidnapping and death in war-torn Afghanistan, Amnesty International said Thursday.
Almost 9,500 Afghans went back to their homeland in 2016 after their applications for asylum in Europe were rejected, compared with nearly 3,300 a year earlier, the human rights group said.
The figure covers asylum seekers who were detained and then deported from European countries, and those who "ostensibly voluntarily" returned with financial assistance, Amnesty said.
Migration is a hot button issue in Europe and politicians are under pressure to bring down the number of asylum seekers after hundreds of thousands of migrants flooded the continent since 2015.
"European governments are forcing increasing numbers of asylum seekers back to the dangers from which they fled, in brazen violation of international law," Amnesty said in a report, "Forced Back to Danger".
The influx of returnees from Europe coincided with rising civilian casualties in Afghanistan’s bloody conflict as Afghan security forces struggle to beat back Taliban and Islamic State jihadists in much of the country.
Nearly 11,500 civilians were killed or wounded in 2016 -- one third of them children -- according to the United Nations, the highest number of annual non-combatant casualties since it began collecting figures in 2009.
Civilian casualties stayed at record highs in the first half of 2017 as the war enters its 16th year. — AFP