Afghanistan, after almost a year, the humanitarian corridors have yet to begin

Afghanistan, after almost a year, the humanitarian corridors have yet to begin

“We will not abandon the Afghans,” said the Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio on August 15, 2021 while Kabul it fell and the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan. A year later not even one of the barely 1200 Afghans inserted into the activated humanitarian corridors Iran and Pakistan arrived in Italy, even though the associations involved had covered all the costs, including the flights. “Diplomatic offices lacked that Devices for taking fingerprintswhich should have gone today,” he explains Valentina Itri, immigration manager of Arci, one of the realities that signed on November 4 the protocol on the corridors for the 1200 displaced people in Iran and Pakistan. Which will likely be in the meantime expelled and dying at the hands of the Taliban regime. But the intolerable slowness of the proceedings is not solely Italy’s fault. The Foreign Office actually decided it against the issuance of humanitarian visas to Afghan citizens who have fled to countries where there are neither corridors nor a United Nations office to turn to. And the court of Rome approved of it for the time being.

If the city Mazar-i-Sharifin northern Afghanistan, which was occupied by the Taliban, a few doctors, like many other fellow citizens, crossed the nearest border with them Uzbekistan which initially showed a certain openness. Staying too risky for two politically committed people, she for the emancipation of women, he also as a journalist. But her stay in the neighbor Uzbekistan it comes with a short-term visa, the expiry of which would have exposed them to the risk of deportation and extradition to the Taliban. There are neither humanitarian corridors nor an office in the country of the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency that has repeatedly urged the need for international protection for the thousands of Afghans in Uzbek territory. So husband and wife try the humanitarian visa route and apply to our Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the help of an Italian lawyer. The answer? There isn’t. Nothing, not even a no. The ball then goes to the court of Romewho, however, denies the possibility with reference to a current order from the same forum.

This is a collegiate resolution dated February 28, 2022, accepting the State Department’s appeal against a previous judgment that had imposed the issuance of humanitarian visas to two other Afghan nationals in December, then in Pakistan. The case was that of two twenty year olds, brother and sister, both journalists and activists and therefore at high risk Deportation to Afghanistan. They too have applied for a humanitarian visa to Italy and they too have received no response from the Farnesina. Given her condition and all the evidence attached by her attorney the attorney Nazarena Zorzella, the court in Rome decides on the immediate issuance of visas. But the Ministry itself is against it and a month later the court backs down. “They are lucky that the visas have now arrived, ten days before the ministry’s complaint was accepted,” explains the lawyer. The good news: the two young people have arrived in Italy. The bad thing is that the appeal that the ministry has since won has set a precedent: the follow-up questions of the humanitarian visa You keep crashing at this decision. This also includes the request of the doctor couple stranded in Uzbekistan, who in the meantime have deployed and declared their troops closed the Afghan border, except for the expulsion of illegal immigrants. “Their tourist visa has expired, they have no funds, they live in hiding. We are their only hope,” explains the lawyer Dario Belluccio, to represent them.

But what are humanitarian visas and why is Italy denying them to Afghan citizens at risk? That right to asylum, which is one of the fundamental rights of the European Union, does not provide a system by which persons in need of international protection can legally reach our borders. One possibility could be that provided for by the European regulation Visa codethat in art. 25 allows a Member State to: a Humanitarian Visa “of limited territorial validity”. The application of art. However, 25 is not an obligation but a power of individual states, and this is also understood by the European Court of Justice who left while making a statement on the matter the question unresolved the risk of Violation of EU fundamental rights, which recognize the prohibition of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment and the right to asylum per se. Also following the court ruling, the State Department appealed against the visas granted to the two 20-year-olds, who were assisted by lawyer Zorzella. The court of Rome rejected a judge from the same forum, reasoning that EU legislation does not impose any obligations in a matter that remains in the exclusive competence of the state.

Then what about the humanitarian corridors? Given that, faced with the humanitarian emergency in September, Europe confines itself to anticipating the possibility without disciplining it the Association for Legal Studies on Immigration (Asgi) asked the Ministry of Di Maio for information on the release of entry visas for Afghan citizens. To answer with a note is the Director General of the Ministry, Luigi Maria Vignali, who writes: “Italy uses this type of visa exclusively within the framework of the structured programs to open legal channels, which, in addition to the humanitarian corridors, include the national resettlement program and the humanitarian evacuations managed by the Ministry of the Interior”. And it limits requests to diplomatic and consular missions to visas for family reunification, re-entry, study and invitation. There are several considerations to be made about the humanitarian corridors. Meanwhile, Italy has activated a protocol signed by Arci, Italian charityCommunity of SantʼEgidio, Fcei / Waldensian table for the entry of 1200 people, mostly women and children, but limited to the countries of Iran and Pakistan. But the humanitarian corridor has not seen a single plane take off eight months after the protocol was signed. For the complicated Safety measures entrusted to the diplomatic offices, explained the Farnesina. Except that these places also do not have the equipment to take fingerprints, which then have to be sent to Italy for approval by the Ministry of the Interior.

“We’ll have one tomorrow Company meetings with the ministries and we will know if we can launch the first flights in July, “explains Valentina Itri from Arci, who recalls that” 80 percent of the people waiting are activists, homosexuals, journalists, all of whom risk being sent back to Afghanistan Day-to-day, most of them live in hiding, and many of them have already suffered forms of violence in host countries”. And he adds: “As the months have passed, the spotlight on the Afghan crisis has dimmed and there was no longer any interest on the part of those in power to turn it on again. And countries like Iran and Pakistan are used to it Repatriate Afghans than to think of humanitarian corridors, for which the associations signing the protocol played the dominant role, and not so much our institutions”. Coming back to the visas that the ministry refuses because they are outside the corridors, Itri is categorical: “It’s an exploitation of the humanitarian corridors”. Also true Chiara FavilliProfessor of EU law at the University of Florence: “What the government is doing is an operation unacceptable, because to say that in Italy the authorization tool exists because we are activating the humanitarian corridors is a mystification of reality, because the numbers are small, because in many countries they are not feasible and because there is an upstream selection of themes. And he explains that, unlike other member states, Italy has never bothered to regulate the issue legally. And that’s not all. According to some of the signers of the protocol, very few are seen in the corridors of humanitarian visas. “The ministry prefers to issue tourist visas,” they explain.

There is no law governing the matter, and not even the Court of Rome bothers to give a judicial rule. “There must be no arbitrariness in the choice of an administrative body like the ministry, the criteria for access to a humanitarian visa must be established by a law that citizens and judges can confront, otherwise there is a possibility for the judicial body to overrule the administration control One,” argues lawyer Belluccio, who continues to fight for the Afghan medical couple and has appealed again to the court in Rome to oblige the Foreign Ministry to issue visas. “De facto deny the possibility apply for individual visas, the policy states that the only way to get to Italy to seek protection is to travel thousands of miles and sometimes years irregularly, overcoming danger and violence, falling into the hands of crime, with no certainty to arrive. But when it comes down to it, the right to asylum guaranteed by the European Union is just that rights of the survivors“.