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What does it mean for refugees to ‘go back home’?

What does it mean for refugees to 'go back home'?

More than two thirds of all refugees worldwide come from five countries, and if sent back, could face a continued threat of insecurity, persecution and economic hardship.

Earlier this year, the Danish government stripped 94 Syrian refugees of their residence permits after declaring parts of Syria safe enough to return to.

This is not an isolated case.

In just 2020, more than one million Afghan migrants were deported to Afghanistan from neighbouring Pakistan and Iran.

And in a report released in April, Human Rights Watch said Burundian refugees, who fled following deadly clashes in the 2015 presidential election, have been subjected to enforced disappearances and tortue by Tanzanian police, forcing them to sign up for “voluntary return”.

It has become common practice to repatriate refugees involuntarily whether they are ready or not, which rights groups say is a direct violation of international human rights law.

It stipulates that no one should be returned to a country where they would face “torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and other irreparable harm”.

It also says no refugee should be forced to go back and should be able to make a free and informed choice to return. And in the case of repatriation, it must be done in a safe and dignified manner.

In the first half of 2020, about 102,600 refugees have been repatriated to their country of origin, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

After being forced to leave by host countries where they were hoping to find safety, migrants and refugees face an agonising future of violence, persecution, and economic hardship posing a continuous threat in their country of origin.

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