The most common reasons why people from Afghanistan seek protection are personal conflicts with family and others, fear of the Taliban or conversion to Christianity.
Figures from the last two years show that we are reversing more cases. We reject some cases based on credibility, meaning we do not believe the applicant's account of what they experienced in Afghanistan. When assessing the credibility of a story, we look at the overall context of the case. We consider whether the account is coherent, consistent, logical, and appears to be based on personal experience. Additionally, we weigh the story against other information in the case, such as country information
UNE assesses each case individually in light of the changing conditions in the country.
Many applicants say they are afraid of the Taliban because they have been in Norway for a long time. They fear being seen as Westernised or being accused of being spies or apostates. Some also fear the Taliban because they belong to specific ethnic or religious groups. Many believe it is dangerous to return to Afghanistan due to the general security situation. This is especially true for those who have lived in Iran or Pakistan for a long time before coming to Norway.
A portion of those seeking protection are women, with or without children, referencing the situation for women under Taliban rule. Other applicants explain they have converted to Christianity, while others have personal conflicts with family members or powerful men in their community. The reason could be disagreements over marriage or property.
Over the past two years, we have processed several cases regarding the renewal of various kinds of limited residence permits. One reason for granting a limited permit, for instance, might be that the applicant hasn't provided documentation to verify their 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.
In cases where we maintain the UDI's decision, it is usually not concluded whether the applicant's identity is substantiated or not.
UNE primarily focuses on the applicants' own details about their identity. If they have provided a believable account of their identity, we would regard it as substantiated.
The national ID document is Tazkera. Roughly 60 per cent of the population have one. However, due to widespread corruption and document forgery, we do not place much trust in the information these provide. The same applies to most other Afghan documents. Since 2018, the Afghan authorities have issued E-tazkera (electronic ID cards with a chip and biometrics) that trump the old paper-Tazkeras in terms om reliability. Today's de facto authorities, however, ony issue E-tazkera in the largest cities. We have not yet received such documents as proof of identity.
The Afgan embassy in Oslo does not currently issue passports, but they extend the validity of previously issued passports. Many Afghans have obtained passports 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.
Even though documents from Afghanistan are often unreliable, we would like applicants to present any ID documents they have. A passport issued by the embassy in Oslo can help corroborate their identity. Those who have resided in Iran or Pakistan might have ID documents indicating they were refugees there. These are crucial documents we would like applicants to provide.
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.
We are well aware of, and closely monitor, the political and security situation in Afghanistan. UNE believes that the overall security situation does not prevent people from returning to Afghanistan. We assess each person's need for protection on a case-by-case basis.
All our information on Afghanistan indicates that, since August 2021, there has been a big drop in the number of violent incidents linked to conflict and in civilians accidentally caught up in such events. For example, there is a very low chance of getting caught in crossfire. The main security threat facing both the Taliban and ordinary Afghans right now comes from terror attacks by Daesh, also known as ISKP (Islamic State Khorasan Province). UNE is also aware of scattered resistance groups in certain regions that carry out attacks against the Taliban. However, no group poses a genuine challenge to the Taliban. There is also no evidence to suggest a significant rise in overall violence or conflict levels in the near future that would seriously impact civilians.
Of the cases we have handled over the past two years, in many of them, we have revised the UDI's decisions and granted permission. The reason is typically new information in the case, such as conversion, family situation, health, or circumstances concerning children. All women and children have been granted residence permits. You can read more about the protection for Afghan women and girls in this article (in Norwegian only).
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 Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA) (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.
Many Afghan asylum seekers have lived in Iran or Pakistan for a long time, and claim that they have little connection to Afghanistan. A number of the female asylum seekers say that they lack a male network in Afghanistan. The credibility of these claims is central to the outcome of their case.
In many cases, it is crucial to ascertain the individual's identity. We dedicate a lot of resources to assessing and clarifying identity.