Monday, May 21, 2007

Afghanistan: Iran expels 70,000 Afghan refugees.

Since April 21 a total of 70,000 have been expelled. Tehran says it wants to repatriate 1,000,000 by next March. Can you imagine the US trying to do something like this and getting away with it? Ay Caramba! I don't think so! Remember the hue and cry that accompanied Little Elian!

More than 70 000 Afghans who were in Iran illegally have been returned in the past month, the United Nations said on Monday, as talks were under way between the neighbours over the controversial deportations. The number of unregistered Afghans being expelled had eased off over the past week, the UN said. (because of increased pressure from civilized nations)

The talks in Iran were to focus on how the deportations were carried out and also the treatment of deportees, it said. There have been reports of returnees being separated from their families in the drive to get them out.

Tehran has said it wanted one million Afghans repatriated by next March. The 70 000 who have been sent back started returning from April 21.

Afghanistan has asked its neighbour to halt the returns, saying it does not have the capacity to accommodate a large number of people at once. "We are concerned about the way the deportations are taking place," said Nader Farhad, a UN refugee agency information officer in Kabul. "It is important with such a large number of people, it should take place in a gradual and orderly manner."

Anger in Afghanistan about the returns has already cost the refugees minister his job. Parliament also wants Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta sacked.

The World Food Programme had provided a month's worth of food to more than 250 returning families in Farah province, one of the main collecting points for the returnees, the UN said. There are about 920 000 registered Afghan refugees in Iran, which took in hundreds of thousands of Afghans during the country's years of war.