Afghan markets in everything

From their tiny cubbyhole offices, an army of typists can run up everything from marriage certificates to CVs and job application letters. Also available, for several hundred dollars more: Taliban death threats, the special chits also known as “night letters” that can be a passport to a new life in the west.

“We can write whatever you need; it depends,” said one young clerk. “For example, we will mention you work in a government department, your job title and salary. It will say, ‘If you don’t leave your job by this date, we will come and kill you or put a bomb in your house’.

And this:

“Australia gives citizenship if you have a good story,” he said. “I am 100% sure that after spending six months in a [processing centre] in Australia you will get citizenship if you do not lose your temper and have warning documents from the Taliban saying you can’t live in Kabul.”

He also trains his clients to stick to their story: “They will know you are lying, but as long as you say the same thing whatever they ask you, you will be fine.”

The story is here, interesting throughout, and for the pointer I thank Bruce Douglas.


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I was surprised to read (2009 statistics) that Germany hosts twice the number of UNHCR refugees (600,000) as America (275,000). Are they really that much more altruistic or is this some people-accounting technicality?

That's just the UNHCR refugees, not the total refugees in the US. The US admits as many as 120,000 refugees per year. And of course refugees account for just a small part of actual immigration.

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This item could also be put under the heading "incentives matter"

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