New country guidelines for Afghanistan – extensive assessment of the security situation to continue
The Finnish Immigration Service has drawn up new guidelines for the decision-making on Afghan citizens’ asylum and residence permit applications. For the time being, Afghan citizens are not issued with negative decisions that would lead to removal from the country.
On 9 July 2021, the Finnish Immigration Service paused the issuing of negative decisions involving removal from the country to Afghanistan. The decision-making was paused because of the security situation in Afghanistan deteriorated considerably.
The Finnish Immigration Service continues to issue positive decisions on residence permit applications and applications for international protection.
Obtaining comprehensive information about Afghanistan remains difficult
The Finnish Immigration Service monitors the responses of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other EU Member States to the situation in Afghanistan. On November 11 2021, EASO published an updated version of its guidance document
‘Country Guidance: Afghanistan’ . Like other EU Member States, the Finnish Immigration Service has been involved in commenting the updated guidance.
The views of EASO and UNHCR will be taken into account in the country guidelines of Finland.
“The situation in Afghanistan continues to be unstable. Our cooperation with EU Member States has not yet produced country information that is reliable enough for making an extensive assessment of the security situation,” says Jaakko Purontie, Head of Section of Legal Service.
The Finnish Immigration service is closely monitoring the security situation in Afghanistan and will publish new, more extensive country guidelines as soon as possible.
Several applicant groups in a vulnerable position
The situation of each asylum seeker is assessed individually.
If the asylum seeker cannot be granted refugee status, subsidiary protection can also be considered. Subsidiary protection is a form of international protection that can be granted on the basis of the security situation in the applicant’s home country.
Although it is not yet possible to make a comprehensive assessment of the need for protection of all applicant groups, certain groups such as children and women without safety network, sexual minorities, journalists and employees of human rights organisations are considered in principle to be in need of international protection. Also, those who have worked with opponents of the Taliban, international troops or the former Afghan government and those who have renounced Islam are deemed to need international protection.
“The country guidelines include a list of applicant groups that can already, based on current information, be regarded as in need of international protection. However, the list is not exhaustive, and the asylum seeker’s overall situation is always considered,” says Purontie.
The number of Afghan asylum seekers is low
If it is not possible to assess an individual applicant’s need for international protection, the asylum seeker must wait for the decision until the effects of the changes in the security situation on decision-making can be assessed comprehensively.
“We understand that it is not easy for our customers to wait and endure the unstable situation. We are actively assessing the situation in Afghanistan,” says Purontie.
During January-October of this year, 356 Afghans have applied for asylum in Finland. Of the applications submitted, 196 are first applications and 160 are subsequent applications. So far, the situation in Afghanistan does not show in the number of applicants. At the moment, 530 Afghan citizens are waiting for an asylum decision.
Press release on 8 November 2021: The number of asylum seekers remained low
EASO 11 November 2021: Afghanistan - EU issues joint guidance on asylum applications