Refugee law today is increasingly a tool of counter-insurgency, used by States to exclude the most vulnerable from the major trouble-spots of the world. The new counter-insurgency strategy is based on real and imagined new terrors to the West. This article looks at how children and so-called ‘military-aged males', fleeing conditions of ‘indiscriminate violence' from Afghanistan, are denied the protection of Article 15(c) of the EU Qualification Directive (Council Directive 2004/83/EC). This was passed to cover a risk of ‘serious harm', defined inter alia, as ‘serious and individual threat to a civilian's life or person by reason of indiscriminate violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict.' The result is a marked subversion and impoverishment of the investiture of refugee-hood itself, which does not bode well for the future.