India, a home away from home for Afghan refugees

New Delhi, Aug.17 (ANI): Years of war and instability in Afghanistan have forced many of its citizens to migrate to other countries. In India, many Afghans live as refugees and are registered with the UNHCR (United Nation High Commission of Refugees).

Located in South Delhi's Malviya Nagar is Bosco Self Reliance Programme (BSRP).

Bosco, a UNHCR's implementing partner in India, has been supporting refugees since 2002 in acquiring vocational skills and finding work in the informal sector.

Some 50 out of 70 refugees working here are Afghans, and they have migrated from their war-ravaged country in search of safety.

Mohammad Zahir and his wife Najeeba came to India in 2006.

"I can't go back to Afghanistan as there are many issues involved. I may be killed if I go back to Afghanistan, said Mohammad Zahir, an Afghan refugee.

Historical ties and cultural similarities between Afghanistan and India make it one of the favorite options for Afghan asylum seekers.

Till June 2012, there were 9,317 Afghan refugees and 603 Afghan asylum seekers registered under the UNHCR's mandate in India.

Facing a life threat from the Taliban, Nafisa migrated to India in 2010.

"I am young and at an age to study. But, in our country, stepping outside from home for a woman is objectionable, and attaining education is like a dream. In 2010, when we came to India, there were incidents in Afghanistan of Taliban throwing acid on school girls. I belong to Kandahar, the Taliban stronghold," said Nafisa, an Afghan refugee.

The UNHCR has four such centres in New Delhi where they train Afghan men and women to make paper plates, in tailoring and embroidery.

After completing training, refugees can find suitable jobs or, even start their own businesses.

"Most Afghan women have tailoring skills, and here, we polish their skills, and use their skills to make Indian items like kurtas, shorts" said Robin Anto, production manager at Bosco Self Reliance Programme (BSRP).

Bosco Self Reliance Programme has given a new hope of life to distressed Afghan refugees.

The High Commissioner for Refugees at the United Nations, Antonio Guterre, has rightly said: "While every refugee's story is different and their anguish personal, they all share a common thread of uncommon courage: the courage not only to survive, but to persevere and rebuild their shattered lives." (ANI)