Impact Advocacy | 04 May 2022
Challenge after challenge face Afghan refugees – but your support is helping meet needs


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It’s one challenge after another for Afghans fleeing their homeland. In neighboring countries, the obstacles facing refugees include extortionate rent, poor living conditions and unreliable bureaucracy. The need is massive, but your support is ensuring that vital aid is reaching both Christian and Muslim Afghan refugees. We caught up with Brother Ishmael – an Open Doors local partner whose name we’ve changed for security reasons – to explain more…

A camp for Afghan refugees; your support is helping local partners to minister to those forced to flee Afghanistan – now number one on the World Watch List

To what extent are Afghan refugees getting official help from governments?

ISHMAEL: The situation of Afghan refugees in some neighboring countries is very difficult. Many governments do not provide the necessary social support because they do not officially recognize presence of refugees in their countries.  

There is a category of refugees who were given official refugee status. They received their status with the support of an international organization and, according to international law, they should not work because they have a right to get payments from authorities. However, they tend not to receive such payments.

Every three months, they must go to the immigration service and confirm their refugee status. If a refugee tries to get a job, he or she will lose the status and would have to hide from the authorities and somehow survive, remaining in an unofficial position in the country or face deportation to their homeland, where he or she faces death. 

There is another category of refugees who have applied for refugee status. They have a document confirming their expectation for refugee status and have the right to legally stay in the country. But they do not even have refugee rights. To obtain refugee status, they need to apply for documents, which is very expensive.

What housing is available and what are living conditions like?

ISHMAEL: Refugees are forbidden to settle in big cities. Consequently, they are forced to settle in the suburbs where landlords hike up prices for them. For a national citizen, the rent is £40 (PHP 2,200)  per month, but for an Afghan refugee it is about £115 (PHP 6,300) per month and they need to pay at least six months in advance – that is more than £650 (PHP 35,000), which is an incredibly huge amount for people in such a difficult life situation.

"We help Christian refugees who have converted from Islam, who have experienced terrible persecution"- ISHMAEL

Many refugees who ran away from their country with all the money they had have rented housing and are living. But now their time in rented housing is running out, and there is no way to earn money. They find themselves in a situation of collapse, with no hope of support to fall back on. In some neighboring countries, there are no tent camps for internally displaced persons. Renting is the only option.

There are some houses on the outskirts where the government allows official refugees to rent housing at a lower price, but there are very few such houses and living conditions are very poor. Electricity is given only a few hours a day, and there is no centralised heating. The heating is only with electricity, and so it is cold and damp in those houses. There is no hot water.

Most refugees are not official and they are trying to find jobs to pay their bills. They are usually given only the hardest, dirtiest and most low-paid work. They earn about £2 a day, which is very difficult to survive on.

A lot of children and adults need medical care. It is almost impossible to get high-quality medical care in this region if a person is a refugee, and they need to pay for everything, which can be very expensive. There are a lot of children also – from three to five children almost in every family – and schools cannot accept them all. Most children cannot pay, so they are on the streets. Many do not have documents, because they fled before they had time to take them. In general, the situation of refugees is very difficult. And they can't go anywhere, it's too expensive for them.

How is Open Doors helping Afghan refugees?

ISHMAEL: First, we provide food packages, which helps many refugees to survive. Additionally, we distribute clothes, blankets and hygiene items. We also provide medical assistance. For example, one child from a family of Afghan refugees needed urgent medical care, and the hospital refused to accept him because he is not a national citizen. We partnered with the church near him to cover his medical expenses.

Currently, we cover 5,000 Afghan refugees in my area. Assistance is also now being provided in other countries in the region. We help Christian refugees who have converted from Islam, who have experienced terrible persecution and fled because of direct danger to their lives from the Taliban regime, and are the most vulnerable, with no support from anyone except for local Christian believers. We also extend support to Muslim refugees who are able now to hear the gospel. It is our prayer that they would see and feel the love of Christ.

Top photo: representative image used

please pray

Dear God, remove the many obstacles facing Afghan refugees. Lead them to places of safety, supply and security. Give them favor with officials and governments, and surround them with people of warm hospitality. Pour fresh hope into their hearts and give them a new start. Bring healing where it’s needed. And may the witness of Your people lead others to a knowledge of You. Amen.

please give

Your long-term support for isolated believers like these Afghani refugees, tell them that you stand with them.