Human Traffickers Ply Their Trade Openly in Kabul

A number of young would-be Afghan migrants on Wednesday said human traffickers are going about their business freely in Kabul and no action is being taken against them.

These would-be migrants say that the people smugglers sell their services “dishonestly” and make promises in exchange for money that they do not keep.

This, they say is specifally related to the modes of transport used and the routes promised to refugees who seek refuge in Europe.

One Kabul resident, who himself wants to leave for Europe, says he has met with 10 different human traffickers and is now waiting his turn to leave.

“Human traffickers have significantly increased. Everyone tells us different stories and we don’t know who to trust,” Abdul Raouf said.

Raouf who has already tried to reach Europe once before was deported from Iran on his first attempt. He said the human traffickers at the time took all the money he had on him.

“When I travelled to Iran the trafficker took my $3,000 USD to keep with him but when I was deported, he didn’t pay back my money,” he said.

According to these would-be migrants, those using human traffickers now pay money changers, who hold their cash. Once in Europe the migrants call these operators and give them the go-ahead to pay the money to the traffickers.

Following government calls to money changers to abstain from working as middle-men, they continue to take guarantees of thousands of dollars a day.

“All money changers have been told that helping smugglers is a crime but still a few of them are secretly doing the business,” Haji Zeerak, spokesman for the Money Changers Union said.

He said a minimum of $400 million USD leaves the country each month due to human traffickers. He also linked the dip in the Afghani against the U.S dollar to this problem.

People have however, raised questions as to why government has not clamped down on this practice and tracked and arrested the human traffickers.

The Interior Ministry said on Tuesday, however that a senior-level commission comprised of 10 different government organizations has started work to track down the traffickers and curb the problem.

“Many individuals and groups were arrested last week for deceiving people and trafficking them illegally to foreign countries,” MoI spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said. “They are being interrogated.”

Meanwhile, speculation suggests that officials within the government and at foreign embassies also help the human traffickers get visas for would-be migrants.

According to them, the lack of action by government to crack down on these traffickers has led them to continue their illegal business without any fear.

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