REFUGEE AT THE AGE OF 15

At the age of 15, Mirwais unwillingly became a refugee in a foreign country. His father had to flee Afghanistan due to pursuit by an affluent local deputy and took the son with him. Mirwais had been trying to obtain asylum in Russia for three years, but it is only with 19, after he contracted tuberculosis, that he got asylum granted.

REFUGEE AT THE AGE OF 15

In Kabul, Mirwais’s family was well off. They had their own house, cars, the father had a profitable business in land trading. It’s because of the business that Mirwais’s father got into a conflict with an affluent deputy of the Parlament who began to extort money from the family taking advantage of his office. Armed men would come to the house and threaten the family. The mother left for a remote region of Afghanistan with two older brothers, and Mirwais stayed with his father. First they moved to a different district of Kabul, then to another city, but they never managed to hide from the chase for an extended time. In 2015, Mirwais’s father decided to flee Afghanistan together with his 15-year-old son.

In Russia, where they arrived, the Afghanis suffered a lot of hardship. After several years of fruitless attempts to legalize their stay in the country, acquaintances advised Mirwais’s father to contact the Civic Assistance Committee. Maiwand Abdul Ghani, the lawyer of the “Migration and law” network of the Human Rights Center “Memorial”, a former refugee himself, now a Russian citizen, took charge of the case. Abdul Ghani helped Mirwais’s father appeal against the rejection of asylum request and file a new application with the migration service. In 2018, he was eventually granted temporary asylum.

However, only the father was recognized a refugee. During the reception, the civil servants did not allow the Aghani to enter his son’s data in his application, explaining that Mirwais had to file for asylum himself once he turns 18. That despite the fact that under the law, minor children are granted the documents based on their parents’ status.

Before the father’s documents arrived, a misfortune happened to Mirwais. The young man had to grow up early and to start earning his living. After a heart surgery, his father was unable to perform hard physical work, and there are no other jobs refugees can get in Russia – they accept any chance to make some money. This is why every day, from early morning till late in the evening Mirwais worked for two as a warehouse loader. Once, in the evening, Mirwais was taken to hospital by an ambulance with fever. In the hospital, he was diagnosed with ambilateral lung tuberculosis. Mirwais had been feeling unwell for a long while already, but he was tolerating it, because “a man should silently bear all difficulties”. Fortunately, Russian doctors conducted a surgery on Mirwais successfully and saved his life. Mirwais spent the next several months in a treatment center where he underwent several rounds of therapy and got completely healed from tuberculosis.

Having recovered from the illness a bit, 18-year old Mirwais filed for asylum himself, but the application was rejected. The lawyer Maiwand Abdul Ghani appealed against the rejection in the Main Directorate of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs for migration matters, reminding the migration service that there is such a notion as “humane grounds” for granting asylum (para. 2 Art. 12 of the Federal Law “On Refugees”): where an individual cannot return to his country of origin as there he or she would have no access to qualified medical assistance.

Abdul Ghani notes: “In the last three months, eight of my applicants were granted temporary asylum. This is probably due to deterioration of the general situation in Afghanistan, where presidential elections were held a month ago, and still no results have been announced.”

Translated by Daria Gorbacheva

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