Afghanistan: Delays Persist for Visa Applicants

Sat 11th May, 2024

Nearly three years after the Taliban's assumption of power in Afghanistan, individuals facing threats from the regime continue to encounter obstacles in seeking refuge in Germany, despite assurances of assistance from the federal government. Recent data reveals that the federal admission program, designed to provide sanctuary for endangered Afghans, has admitted only a fraction of eligible individuals into the country.

Since its inception in October 2022, a mere 399 people have entered Germany through this program. Initially, the program aimed to facilitate the monthly arrival of up to 1,000 endangered Afghans and their families. This information comes to light from the federal government's response to an inquiry by Clara Bünger, a member of the left-wing Bundestag, which was disclosed to Süddeutsche Zeitung.

For many, the pathway to applying for a visa entails years of waiting. The federal admission program extended the promise of admission to Afghans not categorized as local employees due to their service with the Bundeswehr or German humanitarian organizations, nor listed initially as individuals at high risk under human rights concerns. Of the 45,000 individuals listed, 33,000 have successfully entered Germany. However, only 2,208 individuals have received confirmation of admission under the federal program.

Numerous factors contribute to the sluggish progress. With the closure of the German embassy in Kabul, Afghans must obtain costly visas to access representations in Pakistan or Iran, where lengthy waiting lists further impede progress. In Pakistan alone, 3,000 individuals holding admission confirmations await their onward journey, encountering delays exacerbated by rigorous security screenings. Since September 2023, the embassy has issued nearly 3,000 visas for at-risk Afghans.

The plight extends to family reunification efforts, with over 17,000 applications from affected Afghans awaiting appointments at embassies in Islamabad and Tehran. However, from January 2023 to March 2024, only 3,300 family reunification visas were issued. Bünger criticizes the program as a "bureaucratic behemoth," denouncing the "outrageous" reality that individuals entitled to family reunification endure prolonged waits before even being eligible to apply for a visa.

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