The most common reasons why people from Afghanistan apply for asylum is private conflicts with family or others, fear of Taliban or conversion to Christianity.
Figures from the past two years show that we reverse a number of decisions. Some cases are rejected for reasons of credibility, meaning that we do not believe the applicant’s statement regarding his or her experiences in Afghanistan. When we consider whether a statement is credible, we make an overall assessment of the case. Among other things, we consider whether the statement is coherent, consistent and logical, and seem to describe a personal experience. We also consider the statement in relation to other information in the case, such as information about the country in question.
Some applicants are women, sometimes with children, who state that they are alone in Norway and do not have any close male relatives in Afghanistan. Others state that they have converted to Christianity. Others state that they are in conflict with other private individuals, for example family members or powerful men in the local community. The reason can be disagreement regarding e.g. marriage or property.
Some people who apply for protection say that they fear the Taliban or other insurgent groups because they themselves, or close relatives, have worked for the Afghan authorities. Others state that the Taliban are trying to recruit them by force. Some are also afraid because of the overall security situation in the area. In particular, this is often the case with applicants who have lived in Iran or Pakistan for a long time before they arrived in Norway.
Over the last two years, a number of cases have concerned renewing different types of limited residence permits. The reason for issuing a limited permit could e.g. be that the applicant has not submitted documents to substantiate his/her identity.
Everyone who applies for asylum in Norway is obliged to assist in clarifying their identity. Applicants who have a passport must hand this in. Other documents may also be accepted as proof of identity. Applicants who do not have ID documents are obliged to do their best to obtain such documents.
We conclude that an applicant's identity is either substantiated or not substantiated:
Substantiated identity: We believe that it is probable that the applicant is who he says he is. Documents and the applicant's statement can help to substantiate their identity. As a rule, the identity of the applicant must be substantiated before a residence permit can be granted.
Not substantiated: We believe that it is not probable that the applicant is who he says he is. This is the case when the applicant has not helped to establish who he is and where he comes from, by, for example, providing incorrect information. The reason we believe the identity has not been substantiated must always be included in the decision.
UNE first and foremost emphasises the applicants' own information about their identity. If they have given a credible statement regarding their identity, we will consider their identity to be substantiated.
The national ID document is tazkera. Around 60 per cent of the population have tazkeras. Due to widespread corruption and document forgery, we do not give weight to the information in such documents. The same applies to most other Afghan documents. Afghan authorities now issue E-tazkera (electronic ID cards with chip and biometrics) that are of a higher standard than paper-tazkeras. We have not yet received such documents as proof of identity.
The Embassy of Afghanistan in Oslo issues passports. Many Afghans obtain a passport while staying in Norway. We believe that people who hold passports are probably Afghan citizens, but it is uncertain whether the information in the passport is correct.
Afghan documents are not very reliable, but we nevertheless want applicants to submit any ID documents they have. A passport issued by the embassy in Oslo can help to substantiate who they are.
In addition to the applicants’ statements, we always consider whether the area they come from is so dangerous that they need protection. We call this an assessment of the security situation. Both international case law and decisions made by several of UNE’s Grand Boards show that there is a high threshold for granting a permit on the basis of the security situation in a country.
In order to grant a permit on this basis, the general level of violence must be so high that any person will face a real danger simply by being in the area. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has stated several times that this will only be relevant in extremely violent and turbulent situations.
In the cases that we consider, most asylum seekers come from areas where the security situation is stable enough for them not to be entitled to protection. In these areas, there may be frequent armed attacks and clashes between the parties involved in the conflict without this reaching the threshold for granting a permit. In order to grant a permit on this basis, the general level of violence must be so high that any person will face a real danger simply by being in the area.
In most areas of Afghanistan, there have not been reports of systematic abuse against the civilian population or military activity at a level that threatens the life and health of anyone staying in the area.
In some cases where the applicant is from an area where the security situation is unclarified, we refer the applicant to internal flight to larger cities, such as Kabul, Mazar-e Sharif and Herat, where the security situation is stable enough for the applicant to travel there.
We are well aware of, and closely monitor, the political and security situation in Afghanistan. All cases are assessed on the basis of updated country information. When we assess the situation, we take into account that there may be political changes when the foreign forces start withdrawing from the country. Although we take into account some uncertainty about how the situation will develop, we still believe that the general situation in the country is not such that all Afghans risk being persecuted or exposed to danger.
Over the last two years, we have reversed a relatively large proportion of decisions made by the UDI to refuse applications, and we have then issued permits. This is usually because we obtain new information about the case, e.g. with respect to conversion, family situation, health situation, or changes around children's conditions.
We use many different sources. Much of the information we use has been collected by Landinfo, a unit that prepares reports on topics that are important to the UDI and UNE. Recommendations from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (external link) are also important. We read reports from the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) (external link) and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) (external link) and analyses from the Afghanistan Analysts Network (external link), among others. We also keep up-to-date with reports in the media and from other organisations.
A number of Afghan asylum applicants have lived in Iran or Pakistan for a long time, and state that their attachment to Afghanistan is weak. A number of female asylum applicants state that they lack male connections in their network in Afghanistan. The credibility of these claims is central to the outcome of their case. Another point of significance, in many cases, is whether or not the applicant's identity has been cleared. We spend a lot of resources assessing and clearing identities.