Generation Outside Afghanistan was very happy to be invited to participate at the European Conference Declaration: “AFGHAN DIASPORA CALL TO ACTION” which took place on May, 15 and 16, 2022 in Brussels, consisting of 100 members representing more than 70 countries. We thank the Danish Refugee Council, the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) and the organizations involved in creating this opportunity to come together from around the world and enabling us to exchange information about our work from the countries we’re based.
We found the Conference to be very informative and productive and meeting many organizations working in Afghanistan as well as many organizations, like GOA, outside of Afghanistan. We found there is a very strong second generation of Afghans who grew up abroad who can represent Afghanistan and bring about great changes.
The history of Afghanistan is well-known as many organizations have been active in bringing attention to the issues. Because the Taliban is without formal education and therefore illiterate, it is evident to many organizations, and to us as well, that they must not be recognized as a nation. Since the Taliban military overtaking of power, genocide still continues to openly take place in Afghanistan.
The Afghan genocide is known world-wide. The first message delivered by the Conference organizations was for the Afghan diaspora to pressure international communities to have this terrorist organization removed from power in order to help all those trapped inside the country. This is not easy. It will need time and numerous bold undertakings.
For these reasons, the Afghan diaspora will be dealing with asylum applicants/refugees on a world-wide scale to enable them to integrate in the countries they reside and in order for them to have access to education, health, work, security and to live peacefully like everyone else on the planet.
Key speakers provided solutions to the Afghan issues by promoting a just life for all nationalities, religions and languages in Afghanistan. The most important issue is the Hazara genocide. Also stressed is the lack of women’s rights as well as that Afghanistan is regressing a thousand years backward. Afghanistan is not keeping up in today’s world of technology.
To be able to accomplish these tasks, we must build trust between us, we must build cooperation among us, we must build equality and remove discrimination. We must create space for empathy among us and reconcile any differences. Especially the educated second generation inside and outside of Afghanistan must build bridges connecting religions, languages, nationalities and genders to create chances for the Afghan people to live compatibly in modern times.
Eleonas camp has a long history. It is one of the earliest camps established in response to the so-called refugee "crisis" in 2015. For more than a month now, the government has been actively splitting the community and forcing members of the same family to move to other camps or elsewhere in Greece. Asylum-seekers have been forcibly relocated to various camps outside of Athens and in other parts of Greece, while recognized refugees have been made to find accommodation on their own without any financial help or housing assistance. Many of our students come from families of mixed asylum-seeking and recognized refugees living in the camp. Moreover, more than 300 children who are registered in a Greek public school next to the camp are now at serious risk of having their education disrupted due to the impending displacement. Lastly, long-term residents of this camp who have not been able to access opportunities to learn enough Greek or English are at serious risk of long-term unemployment in Greece.
We, as an Afghan community, are worried about many things. Since the start of the war in Ukraine, most Ukrainian refugees have been treated well, whereas other refugees are continuously treated as irrelevant and second-class. For example, many long-term residents of the camp, both Afghan and non-Afghan, have had their asylum cases rejected several times. As such, we will be interviewing residents of the camp to highlight their circumstances and human needs and advocate for finding a better and more suitable solution that does not place them at risk. We want to empower our people, enabling them to contribute to Greek and European societies, rather than placing them in a dangerously vulnerable position. We, members of the Afghan community diaspora, feel a strong sense of responsibility for the care, safety, and well-being of members of our own Afghan community everywhere. It has been many years that we have been working with different the Afghan communities around the world, so we felt it necessary to lend our voice to all refugees, not just Afghans, including those vulnerable to further displacement in Eleonas camp.
Generation Outside Afghanistan would like to welcome Yousef Khalifa Aleghfeli, an academic researcher from the University of Oxford, who is doing research on the educational resilience of refugee children and youth. Yousef is doing this research to better understand refugee youth's educational journey and their future educational goals. At the same time, Yousef will be helping the centre in our many initiatives, and is happy to give advice to anyone who is thinking about continuing their education after highschool. Generation Outside Afghanistan is the ideal place because we already offer many educational activities and other services to members of our community.
We are also happy to support Yousef's research because it helps us better understand the educational system, the needs and circumstances of our community, and the educational motivation of our new Afghan generation in Europe. The centre is a space that is open for all, and that includes academics who are doing research that is meaningful to us.
For more than 3,500 years, the people of Afghanistan have gathered every year to celebrate Nowruz to mark the arrival of spring. To commemorate this event, we at the Afghan Community Centre of Greece, along with our partners, We Need Books, Generation outside Afghanistan, and Afghans empowered, organized a Nowruz gathering this past Sunday, March 20, for our students, teachers, and the rest of the community. Due to the negative circumstances in Afghanistan that are personally affecting every member of our community, we could not hold a large outdoors event outdoors with everyone. Instead, we had a modest and intimate event at our centre that brought some joy to our members.
The gathering was a welcome event for our community. We cooked together and engaged in fruitful discussions, particularly around our educational programming and the community’s educational needs. One positive outcome of the gathering was a commitment between the Afghan Community Centre of Greece and We Need Books to collaborate on more educational initiatives for our community, such as organizing a tour, once a month, with our students and teachers of the historical areas of Athens to learn about the ancient culture and history of the city.
The process of integration into a society with different manners, customs, and norms from the country of origin of a refugee and / or asylum seeker goes through various stages, is multifaceted, long-term and ultimately aims to empower the individual to experience a harmonious life, free of barriers and restrictions, like any other citizen of the destination country. Education undoubtedly plays a key role in the process of integration and empowerment of the individual. By education we mean all activities that include learning the local language, the cultural background of the country of residence, and finally engaging with the general culture of life of locals.
In this context, for months now, three organizations have been joining forces to provide an important - humanitarian above all - service for the integration and empowerment of refugees and asylum seekers through education. Specifically, Generation outside of Afghanistan, Afghans Empowered, and the Community of Afghan Refugees and Immigrants in Greece, are highlighting the primary importance of education in the smooth and harmonious integration of each person into society as a whole, because education is a key lever for further empowerment of the individual.
In particular, students are learning Greek and English in classrooms where all prescribed health protocols against the pandemic are meticulously observed. This means they develop a common code of communication with the locals and with the rest of the world community, they expand their spiritual horizons, and inevitably evolve into carriers of principles and values of another way of life. All 3 organizations combine their role with other activities, an element that inevitably leads to cooperation with other groups with which they have a common starting point and goal.
However, apart from the education lessons, an important aspect of the educational process is the encouragement of the beneficiaries to tell their story through written and / or oral speech. When we say history, we mean their personal experiences that constitute the book of their lives imprinted not only in their language but with the ultimate goal of making all humanity a part of this journey – a journey that often brought life very close to death.
The call made through this announcement is therefore open and permanent to all who wish to become a link in this chain of giving, perceive solidarity as an active way of life, and appreciate that life itself can only be empowered through education and therefore have no choice but to join this dynamic network.
Afghans Empowered; Afghan M&R Community of Greece; Generation Outside Afghanistan.
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