For three weeks now, Shareef M., a 32-year-old Afghan who enjoys international protection in France, has not heard from his family. His wife and six children live in a Taliban-controlled village a few kilometers from the border with Pakistan. “The Taliban have already killed my father and my brother. They threatened my wife ”, explains, throat tight, this former driver for NATO. He recently logged into Facebook. And there he discovered that his cousin, a gendarme by profession, had been burned in his car.
Shareef M., who now lives in the Tarn, fled Afghanistan in 2015, just after the assassination of his father, also a NATO driver. Since he obtained asylum, he has tried to bring his family to France, in vain. In principle, the law provides that refugees, beneficiaries of subsidiary protection and stateless persons can be joined by their spouse and children under the age of 18 as part of a “family reunification” procedure. For this, a visa request must be made to the French consular authorities located in the country of origin. The relatives of Shareef M. applied for a visa for the first time in 2019. “Since then, we have had no response”, he breathes.
Hundreds of Afghan families are still waiting for their cases to be processed. A situation that goes on forever. In recent weeks, their concern has increased as the Taliban take control of the country.
“Completely unreasonable delay”
The organization of French consular services in the region is the cause of these delays. In May 2017, following the attack in the embassy district of Kabul, the visa service of the French embassy closed, causing a significant delay in the processing of files. From March 2018, the Afghans concerned had to send their request to the consular services of the French Embassy in Pakistan.
In 2020, the health crisis due to Covid-19 has extended the wait a little longer. From March 2020, the registration of visa applications for family reunification was almost completely frozen by the French authorities, in order to “Fight against the epidemic”. The study of the files did not really resume until the beginning of the year, after the Council of State suspended the government’s decision. According to information received by lawyers and associations, at the end of January, 3,500 cases were awaiting treatment in Islamabad.
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