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Report: 40 Percent of Afghans Looking to Leave the Country

  • An Afghan refugee falls into the sea as refugees and migrants arrive on a raft on the Greek island of Lesbos.

    An Afghan refugee falls into the sea as refugees and migrants arrive on a raft on the Greek island of Lesbos. | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 November 2015

An annual survey of Afghans across all districts of the country has revealed many would consider leaving the country, despite hostility from Europe. 

A report by the Asia Foundation, a nonprofit international development organization, reported Tuesday that 40 percent of Afghans would leave Afghanistan should the opportunity present itself.

This was part of the foundation’s annual survey, which provides insights as to why so many Afghans are making the often dangerous trip to Europe in search of a new life.

According to the United Nations refugee agency, Afghans are second only to Syrians in terms of the number of people fleeing their country. Although accurate statistics on the number of migrants descending on Europe are hard to prove, it is thought since the beginning of 2015 approximately 150,000 Afghans have arrived in Greece. Meanwhile, the German government confirmed earlier in November that 67,191 Afghans had filed for asylum in Germany during 2015.

The survey also found that only 36.7 percent of the 9,586 polled thought their country was moving in the right direction, which is an 18 percent decrease from the 2014 report.

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The reasons for this discontentment are manifold. Violence in the country is rising with around 5,000 civilian casualties recorded in 2015, and 67 percent of those surveyed said they fear for their safety, the highest rate since 2006. Indeed, 2015 threatens to be the most violent year since the Afghanistan war started in 2001. While 90 percent said corruption was a problem in their daily lives.

“Against an intensely challenging backdrop, the 2015 survey reflects Afghans’ understandable concerns, and a frustration that more progress isn’t being made. The results show increased skepticism in the government’s ability to effectively address these challenges,” said Abdullah Ahmadzai, country representative for the Asia Foundation.

The path to Europe for Afghans looking to flee violence, corruption and high unemployment remains uncertain. Germany has rejected 50 percent Afghans seeking asylum and started a campaign to dissuade them from travelling to Germany. Germany's Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere stated, “Afghanistan’s youth and middle class should remain in their country and take part in its reconstruction.”

Earlier in November, Norway and Afghanistan came to an agreement to repatriate some 90 percent of Norway’s recent arrivals from Afghanistan.

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