Pakistan is keen to move on millions of Afgahn refugees it has hosted for decades. The European Union is increasingly anxious to reject Afghan asylum seekers. This despite the fact that since 2015 we have witnessed a new upsurge of violence in Afghanistan. To remove unwanted migrants, Assisted Voluntary Return schemes are paid for out of development budgets, and compliance of states with the deportation of their citizens who refuse to leave has become an important negotiation strategy in international relations and a precondition for receiving development aid.
Rather than supporting development, the forced return of Afghan migrants actually threatens development and peace-building as it adds to the fragile situation in Afghanistan. Moreover, the excessively optimistic expectations that are communicated to return migrants about their prospects foster anger and disappointment among returnees who find the reality awaiting them is quite different. Return is not a movement back to normal. Instead, return can be a destabilizing factor in a fragile country.