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Beyond Afghanistan - The Struggle of the Refugees

Aake Ericson | Sweden,Denmark,Germany and France, Sweden

Organization: Redux Pictures

Demonstrations in Stockholm.
The sit-down protest against the deportations to Afghanistan went on for six weeks on Medborgarplatsen and Norra Bantorget in Stockholm in 2017. Thousands of people showed their support for the young refugees that the Swedish Migration Board had decided to deport.
Led by Fatameh Khavari, the Afghans chanted “No border, no nations – stop deportation!” and other slogans against the treatment of refugees. Thousands of people were marching in the dense and mighty demonstration that was moving through the streets of Stockholm to Norra Bantorget. Slogans like “Afghanistan is not safe” were mingled with applause. A large number of stewards actively kept the demonstration together while directing the slogans. Passers-by and people watching from balconies and roofs gave their heartfelt support. Thousands of people were touched by the young people who were organizing themselves to survive. There was a general sense that this was a historic event.

This project is a photojournalistic essay about the unaccompanied young refugees who came from Afghanistan and their struggle to create a life for themselves in Sweden.

For two months in 2017 there were demonstrations in Stockholm against the deportations from Sweden. Photojournalist Åke Ericson got to know many of those who took part and has since followed their fates through the asylum process.

Some were granted residence, while others who had their applications rejected are now in hiding or have fled to other places in Europe, so as to avoid the forced deportation to Kabul.

Åke Ericson followed the young Afghans in their everyday lives after receiving their deportation orders. He also met many who are locked up in the Swedish Migration Agency’s detention centre, where they wait, often for many months, to be deported to Afghanistan.

Their individual stories are an important part of the story of a society in change, when humanitarian principles were laid aside while Sweden carried out a dramatic tightening of its refugee policy.

My close friend, the journalist and author Thord Eriksson, called me one evening in 2017 and told me that the attendance at the demonstrations at Medborgarplatsen for the unaccompanied children from Afghanistan was growing all the time. I decided to go there and meet Thord the next day. We also met the unaccompanied children’s spokesperson there, Fatemeh Khavari. I soon decided to become more involved and to document their fates in order to give them another voice.

Since then, I have met many young people who are in custody in the Swedish Mig- ration Agency’s detention centres following a nal deportation order. I have met those who ed from Sweden to France, living in minus degrees in tents under the motorway bridges of Paris, waiting to apply for a residence permit again. Anything at all, but not to be sent to Kabul, most people tell me. I have seen the anguish and abandonment in their eyes, and it has not left me untouched.

The material for this book I have compiled during a close collaboration with Thord Eriksson over two years in Sweden and while traveling in Europe. We have listened to their stories, and this is just a fraction of all the thousands of fates that are forming in Sweden right now.

Åke Ericson
photo@akeericson.com
www.akeericson.com
+46708555700

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