Joint Press Statement
Joint Press Statement by the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the
Kingdom of Norway and UNHCR at the 3rd Tripartite Working Group Meeting
Oslo, August 28th, 2008
The Working Group established to discuss the implementation of the MoU on the return of Afghan nationals between the Governments of Afghanistan, Norway and UNHCR met for the third time in Oslo on August 28th, 2008. Senior officials of the two governments and UNHCR participated in the meeting.
The meeting took place in a constructive atmosphere where all parties shared a wish to continue to work together to realize the objectives set out in the MoU. In that framework, the following points were discussed and agreed by the Parties:
• The meeting took stock of the progress made since the second meeting of the working group towards the implementation of the MoU. In particular the deployment of a Norwegian Liaison Officer at the Norwegian Embassy in Kabul and the improvement of the procedure for return and reintegration were seen as positive steps.
• The Government of Afghanistan and UNHCR expressed their appreciation for the generous reintegration assistance provided by the Government of Norway. The programme has recently been evaluated and the Government of Norway is currently reviewing the recommendations.
• The parties noted with concern that the overall security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated since the last meeting of the Working Group. It was acknowledged that this is reflected by the higher recognition rates for Afghan asylum seekers in Norway.
• Bearing in mind the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation, the Government of Afghanistan requested a temporary halt of involuntary returns of rejected Afghan asylum-seekers. Norway understood the Afghan request, but held that the higher recognition rate, as well as the very limited number of involuntary returns, already demonstrated that due account was taken of the changed circumstances. The Afghan Government understands the position of the Government of Norway and is pleased with recent higher recognition rates. UNHCR is equally pleased with the high recognition rates for persons with international protection needs, and emphasizes that rejected asylum-seeker should not be returned to areas where they do not have effective social links.
• The Government of Norway expressed readiness to assess the request by the Government of Afghanistan for further support towards shelter and accommodation for returnees.