Afghan refugees who supported Canada's mission in Afghanistan arrive at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Canada
Afghan refugees who supported Canada’s mission in Afghanistan prepare to board buses after arriving in Canada, at Toronto Pearson International Airport August 24, 2021. MCpl Genevieve Lapointe/Canadian Forces Combat Camera/Canadian Armed Forces Photo/Handout via REUTERS . Reuters

Afghans living in a makeshift refugee camp in the United Arab Emirates staged demonstrations this week protesting the uncertainty of their status, participants told Reuters, and one refugee now in Canada said they are "psychologically suffering."

Residents in the camp, called Emirates Humanitarian City, have been housed there awaiting transfer to another country since fleeing Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover last year.

Two Afghans in the camp told Reuters on Tuesday that some of the 2,000-3,000 Afghan refugees in the facility staged demonstrations this week to demand clarity on their future. The protests were called off following an update from authorities on the resettlement process. Reuters could not confirm what assurances, if any, were given.

Ahmad Sadam Siam Panah left the UAE facility at the end of September to travel to Canada, one of about 1,500 Afghans Canada has agreed to resettle from the camp at the request of the United States.

Panah, 24, said he was grateful for what the UAE had done for Afghan refugees but was concerned about those who remained in the facility.

"They are mentally damaged. Psychologically suffering... Most of them had dreamed to work for Afghanistan... But now the dream is to be outside of the camp."

The UAE says it provides housing, medical care, food, education and counseling and told Reuters 85% of the approximately 17,000 Afghans who have been in the camp have been resettled.

"The UAE continues to work with the U.S. Embassy to process travelers and liaise with U.S. counterparts in efforts to resettle the remaining evacuees in a timely manner as per the original agreement," an Emirati official said.

"We understand that there are frustrations and this has taken longer than intended to complete."

The U.S. Embassy in the UAE did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Pictures and videos shared with Reuters from inside the camp on Monday and Tuesday included those of children and women marching and chanting, "we want freedom." One banner read: "Women Suffer Mentally."

Camp residents joke that they have forgotten how to share streets with cars because it has been so long since they have been allowed out, Panah said.

"A prisoner knows when he will be released from jail but we did not know when we will be transferred to our final destination," he said.

Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan visits evacuee families from Afghanistan at Emirates Humanitarian City in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan visits evacuee families from Afghanistan at Emirates Humanitarian City in Abu Dhabi, ​United Arab Emirates September 1, 2021. Picture taken September 1, 2021. WAM/Handout via REUTERS Reuters