News - Afghanistan
Iran deports over 25,000 Afghans every month largely indifferent to their destinations or wellbeing, recent reports from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and interviews with migrants indicate.
Iran is home to over a million Afghans, many of whom fled there seeking refuge from violence and persecution in Afghanistan over the past few decades, others simply looking for greater educational and economic opportunities. Although many of them are undocumented, the Iranian government, until recently, largely turned a blind eye.
Islam Qala Port is the main border-crossing between Iran and Afghanistan, and hundreds of families are now forced through it back into Afghanistan by Iranian police on a daily basis.The deportations are often conducted in a seemingly haphazard and callous fashion, with many Afghan immigrants claiming Iranian police have split up families, deporting some parents without their children and some children without their parents.
Taj Gul Haidari, a woman who was deported from Iran without her husband and her kids, says she has no family left in Afghanistan, and that her entire life is back in Iran. "My son is four years old and my daughter is in the third grade, and they are still in Iran," Haidari told TOLOnews. "I cannot stay here, I have to go to Iran, my son is very young and I am pregnant as well."
Now 26 years old, Haidari was nine when she first moved to Iran. Although she had all the legal paperwork granting her residence in Iran for some time, she says Iranian authorities recently decided not grant an extension. "My husband does not know about me, he did his best to prevent my deportation, but the Iranians did not listen to him," she said. "My kids were crying, but it didn't help; the Iranian officials said that I must go to Afghanistan."
The conditions and treatment of Afghan refugees and migrants in Iran has been a sore subject between Kabul and Tehran, which have sought to find more common ground than grievances in recent years as regional cooperation efforts have ramped up. On his trip to Iran last week, President Ashraf Ghani warned that if the problems of Afghan immigrants residing in Iran are not resolved, then ongoing issues related to water transfer from Afghanistan to Iran would not be either.
IOM has been leading efforts to build trust and cooperation between Kabul, Tehran and the international community around the issue of migrants. IOM officials have emphasized that human rights violations against Afghan migrants must stop. Nevertheless, IOM, first and foremost, has concerned itself with the management of the massive inflow of return migrants, ensuring they get the aid they need.
"Twenty to twenty-five thousand people are being deported, and about thirty thousand people returning what we call 'spontaneously', or not deported," IOM Afghanistan Communications Director Matthew Graydon said on Thursday. "So of this fifty-five thousand, we estimate that at least 10 to 20 percent of those people need some form of assistance and they meet humanitarian vulnerability criteria, however, IOM and the government's capacity is much less than that, so we can only assist a handful of the most vulnerable, most in need individuals," he explained.
Based on the most recent IOM statistics, Iran hosts over 800,000 legal Afghan immigrants and around one million illegal Afghan immigrants.