As of 28 May, Afghanistan had reported 13,036 cases of Covid-19 and 235 deaths related to the disease.
As previously reported (See the 30 April Sweden update), the Afghan Ministry for Refugees wrote an open letter on 18 March 2020 to European countries requesting that they halt all deportations to Afghanistan due to the Covid-19 threat. On 31 March, the German government announced it would cease deportations to Afghanistan for the time being with the last flight having taken place on 12 March. The request to halt deportations came at a time where IOM reported that approximately 100,000 Afghans were deported or returned voluntarily from Iran. IOM said that 53,069 undocumented Afghans returned from Iran through the Milnak and Herat borders between 8-14 March, representing a 171 percent increase. The organisation added that since 1 January, the total number of undocumented returnees from Iran is of 136,186 persons, including unaccompanied migrant children, single parent families, physically disabled persons and elders.
On 6 May, the prison authority announced that 10 prisoners tested positive for Covid-19 out of 600 tested. A prisoner detained in the Pul-e-Charkhi prison stated that three prisoners had died after contracting Covid-19. In addition, on 17 May at least 13 detainees tested positive in a prison in the province of Herat.
On 22 April, more than 5,000 prisoners were reportedly freed, mostly women, juveniles and sick prisoners, to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading. On the same day, Afghanistan’s new prison chief, Ahmad Rashid Totakhail, complained to journalists about widespread abuses in the country’s prison system. He described problems ranging from the lack of a comprehensive database on the length of detainees’ sentences to sexual abuse of underage prisoners and a general lack of access to medical care. Subsequently, on 27 April, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a decree to release over 12,000 inmates and to reform various prisons as part of measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
- Gandhara, “Afghan Prison Chief Laments Conditions in Country’s Jails,” 22 April 2020, https://gandhara.rferl.org/a/afghan-prison-chief-laments-conditions-in-country-s-jails/30569489.html
- Prison Insider, “Coronavirus, La Fièvre des Prisons,” 18 March 2020, https://www.prison-insider.com/articles/asie-coronavirus-la-fievre-des-prisons#afghanistan
- Michael Williams & Sofia Häytiö (FARR), Email Exchange with Mario Guido (Global Detention Project), April 2020.
- InfoMigrants, “Germany Halts Deportations to Afghanistan in Light of Coronavirus,” 31 March 2020, https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/23784/germany-halts-deportations-to-afghanistan-in-light-of-coronavirus
- AA, “Covid-19: Over 100,000 Afghans return from Iran,” 18 March 2020, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/latest-on-coronavirus-outbreak/covid-19-over-100-000-afghans-return-from-iran/1770630
- S. Khan, “Covid-19: Afghanistan Pardons over 12,000 Prisoners,” AA, 27 April 2020, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/covid-19-afghanistan-pardons-over-12-000-prisoners/1820251
- Afghan Prisoners Prepare to be released from Pul-e-Charkhi prison in Kabul, (Rahmat Gul, AP, “Afghan Prison Chief Laments Conditions In Country’s Jails,” Gandhara, 22 April 2020, https://gandhara.rferl.org/a/afghan-prison-chief-laments-conditions-in-country-s-jails/30569489.html)