Luxembourgh Times

Afghans still in limbo in Luxembourg after fall of Kabul

Luxembourg still hasn't decided on fate of 150 refugees fleeing the Taliban

Taliban capturing Kandahar, Afghanistan's second-largest city, in August 2021

Taliban capturing Kandahar, Afghanistan's second-largest city, in August 2021 © Photo credit: AFP

Some 150 refugees from Afghanistan are still working their way through the Luxembourg bureaucracy a year after the Taliban took over the reins in Afghanistan, adding to a situation the ombudsman has said was "untenable".

Of the total, 114 had submitted their application for international protection after August of last year, when the West hastily withdrew as Taliban marched into Kabul, Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said in response to a parliamentary question on Monday from left-wing party Déi Lénk.

Another 36 who had applied for protection already before that date were also still awaiting a decision, Asselborn said, while another 26 are appealing a negative decision by the Luxembourg courts.

Afghan asylum seekers are facing an "untenable" situation and a bureaucratic maze, the nation's ombudsman said in an annual report in July, as immigration officials demanded evidence that was hard to get. The ombudsman also criticised that it often took a year for the courts to reach a decision.

Asselborn denied Afghans are facing difficulties obtaining documents. "As it is again possible for Afghan nationals to obtain passports, there are currently no particular difficulties with regard to documentation," he said.

The long wait for those who had sought asylum before the Taliban take-over was because Luxembourg had suspended any decisions until the situation on the ground had been clarified, Asselborn said.

Luxembourg's refugee facilities are close to capacity at 97%, with the war in Ukraine putting further strains on the system and the government scrambling to make more beds available. Last month, some 155 Ukrainians and around 111 Syrians had applied for refugee status, the government said on Monday.

African students from Ukraine have also often been in a limbo state, with many not receiving the protection status they are after, or only after lengthy and difficult administrative and legal fights.