Afghan refugees in UAE camp protest over uncertain future

A number of Afghan refugees, who have been living in a camp in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since the fall of Kabul in August 2021, protested on Saturday against Washington’s delay in resettling them.

The refugees, who have been living in limbo for 17 months, have said the process is being carried out “unfairly and slowly” and called on the United States to speed things up.

In a bid to draw attention to their plight, some of the refugees embarked on protest action on Saturday. They sealed the main gate to the camp and some started a hunger strike.

Abdullah, one evacuee who has been in the camp for almost a year and a half said: “I have a P2 case and I have received a TC Number a year ago. It has been 7 months since all my work has been done. But I still face uncertainty.”

“I am not the only one facing this problem, and around 500 other immigrants who had been evacuated [to the camp] have left their rooms and are demonstrating, since yesterday (Friday), to call for justice,” Abdullah said.

The group of refugees have been living in the camp in the UAE since late August 2021 after having been evacuated from Kabul.

Wais, another asylum seeker, said that he has been waiting for a visa and a ticket for eight months, and appealed to the US to resolve his problem as soon as possible.

“There are children, elderly men, and women among us. We want justice and we want to live freely,” he said.

Afghan refugees have raised their voices several times over what appears to be an opaque resettlement process in many Western countries. Many other refugees said that all their documents are in order, everything has been processed and even housing has been secured. However, they are still waiting to be allowed to travel to the US.

According to reports, about 10,000 refugees have been moved from the Abu Dhabi camp to a second country in the past few months. However, about 3,000 Afghan refugees are still stuck in the Abu Dhabi camp.

Meanwhile, several countries – including Brazil and Canada – have said they will take in people from the camp, but no details have yet been revealed.

Since the fall of the former Afghan government, the United States has taken in 127,000 Afghan citizens, and another 70,000 are waiting to be resettled in the US.

Sources have said that security considerations are one of the reasons for the delay by the US in the resettlement process.