This Afghan activist is fleeing the Taliban. Canada just rejected her visa request because it didn’t believe she’d go home

Will likely provoke reconsideration given the circumstances:

A prominent Afghan women’s rights activist desperately looking for refuge has been denied entry to Canada, despite a government program meant to resettle vulnerable Afghans just like her.

Farzana Adell Ghadiya, a Hazara minority facing persecution by the Taliban, recently received a boilerplate letter from Canadian immigration refusing an application for a temporary residence visa, which she required to enter the country for asylum.

To qualify for a visa, applicants must prove their ties — such as a job, home, financial assets or family — that will take them back to their home country and will leave Canada at the end of the visit.

Adell Ghadiya is in exile in a third country; she has asked the Star not to publish her whereabouts to protect her from repatriation. Given that she doesn’t dare return to Afghanistan, she explained her circumstances in the application and stated up front the purpose of her visit: to seek protection in Canada upon arrival.

“It’s shocking that the immigration department didn’t even take the time to read her affidavit and submissions, which lay out the threats to her life and the obstacles Farzana and many Afghans face in getting to Canada,” explains Matthew Behrens of the Ottawa-based Rural Refugee Rights Network, which is assisting the woman.

“It’s a fundamental breach of fairness to assess an application as something it isn’t. It shows how little value the lives of Afghan women have for the Canadian government.”

Adell Ghadiya was the chief of staff for the UN Commission on the Status of Women for the Afghan government overthrown by the Taliban last year. She is now in limbo in a country whose government, advocates say, is picking up Afghan refugees in sweeps and sending them back to the Taliban’s embrace.

Last year, Ottawa set a target to bring in 40,000 Afghans through a special immigration program for those who worked for the Canadian government in Afghanistan and a humanitarian program for women’s-rights advocates, human-rights defenders, journalists and at-risk minorities.

Adell Ghadiya’s supporters initially tried to get her here through the humanitarian program. However, to qualify, an applicant needs to first register with the United Nations Refugee Agency or the government of the country where they now live.

In the country where she is hiding, the UN agency stopped registering refugees a few years ago and the host government is friendly to the Taliban and reluctant to issue Afghans refugee certificates.

So her advocates helped her apply for temporary residence in Canada in early April, explicitly to seek refuge in the country upon arrival. Indeed, in the refusal letter, immigration officials noted that the purpose of her visit to Canada is not consistent with a temporary stay based on the circumstances she provided in the application.

“Your proposed length of stay in Canada is inconsistent with a temporary stay,” said the two-page form rejection, adding that she could re-apply if she can address those concerns and demonstrate “your situation meets the requirements.”

Adell Ghadiya said she’s devastated by the refusal, which she likens to murder, given the way the Taliban treat women’s-rights advocates who served under the fallen government of U.S.-supported president Ashraf Ghani.

“This is not consistent with the human values ​​that were previously announced by Canada to shelter Afghan women, and creates disappointment in my mind. The current situation of Afghanistan can be seen clearly and obviously to the world,” said Adell Ghadiya, who could face removal in the country she is in now when her visa there expires.

“I appeal to Immigration Minister Mr. Sean Fraser: you have the power to sign a permit to allow me to enter Canada. Why won’t you use that power and save my life?”

Sharen Craig, who is part of a women’s rights network in Ottawa helping Adell Ghadiya, said she is baffled by the government’s refusal to her friend into Canada when she saw a news story about an Afghan rescue dog named Alex reunited with his owner, an interpreter from Kabul, now in the country.

“What does it take to get Farzana here? Does she need to dress up as Scooby-Doo to be accepted? We have spoken with so many MPs, there’s been so much attention to her case,” said Craig, whose group has raised money to support a settlement plan for the Afghan woman.

“All we get is a brick wall of rejection. I am up every night worried with fear for my lovely friend, whom I truly feel has become like a daughter to me.”

Meanwhile, Fraser tweeted on Wednesday about another charter flight with 300 Afghan refugees landing in Toronto from Tajikistan, pushing the total number over 20,350 since the special Afghan resettlement programs kicked into gears a year ago.

Source: This Afghan activist is fleeing the Taliban. Canada just rejected her visa request because it didn’t believe she’d go home

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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