Amnesty International (AI) says thousands of Afghans are being put in danger by European governments by forcing them home, where they face the risk of human rights abuses including torture, kidnapping, and death.
In a report on asylum seekers being returned to Afghanistan from Europe, published on October 5, the London-based human rights group accuses Europe's leaders of a "brazen violation of international law" by forcing their repatriation in increasing numbers.
"In their determination to increase the number of deportations, European governments are implementing a policy that is reckless and unlawful," Anna Shea, AI's researcher on refugee and migrant rights, said in a statement accompanying the report.
"Willfully blind to the evidence that violence is at a record high and no part of Afghanistan is safe, they are putting people at risk of torture, kidnapping, death and other horrors," Shea added.
The report outlines "harrowing" cases of Afghans who have been forcibly repatriated from European nations such as Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Germany.
It says some of those forcibly returned have been killed, injured in bomb attacks, or live in constant fear of persecution for their sexual orientation or religion.
And some of these returnees include unaccompanied children and young adults who were children at the time when they arrived in Europe, according to the report.
Several people the group interviewed for the report were sent to parts of Afghanistan they did not know, despite the "dangerous situation and impunity for crimes such as torture."
According to official European Union statistics, the number of Afghans returned by European countries to Afghanistan nearly tripled in 2016 to 9,460 from 3,290 the previous year.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) says that the numbers of civilian casualties rose to 11,418 people last year with attacks on civilians occurring in every part of the country.
"These returns brazenly violate international law and must stop immediately," according to AI Afghanistan researcher Horia Mosadiq. "The same European countries that once pledged support for a better future for Afghans are now crushing their hopes and abandoning them to a country that has become even more dangerous since they fled."