Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Update: Forced expulsion of Afghani refugees from Iran

Afghanistan: Close to 100,000 refugees expelled from Iran.
(earlier posts: The original post from 5/10. The update from 5/21)

Close to 100,000 Afghan refugees have been expelled from Iran and forced to return to Afghanistan over the past six weeks and the number is likely to increase further as the Iranian authorities continue their forced repatriation. "From April 23 to June 3, 98,712 persons have been deported," Aleem Siddiqui, spokesperson for United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) told Adnkronos International (AKI) at the Islam Qala border point between Afghanistan and Iran.

The UN acts as an enabler and has negotiated arrangements for the handoff with the Iranians. Imagine what they'd be doing if the US decided to forcefully repatriate say 1 million illegal immigrants back to Mexico? Can you say scream bloody murder?

"Migrant workers apart, 1,200 to 1,300 Afghan people are being deported each day from Iran into Afghanistan on the basis of invalid documentation," field officer Naik Mohammed Azami, who is in-charge of the field office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Islam Qala told AKI.Kabul has asked Tehran to stop the forced returns, saying that they cannot accomodate the large numbers of people all at once. The United Nations says that there are 920,000 registered Afghan refugees in the country, but it estimates there are up to one million more living there illegally.

"Earlier there was no mechanism for the transfer and the Iranian authorities used to abandon these people near the Afghan border point but now the UNHCR has mediated to sort out a proper mechanism of handing over [the refugees] to the Afghan authorities," he said.

"The UNHCR has established a clinic for their other immediate needs and transportation [services]," Azami said as he presented the facilities for the deportees at the Islam Qala border between Iran and Afghanistan.

The UNHCR has been actively engaged in the repatriation of Afghan refugees returning to Afghanistan, under a project named Shelter, which was launched to help the returnees from Iran and Pakistan to rebuild their homes in Afghanistan."

We provide them money and resources to build shelters for their familie," UNAMA’s spokesperson Aleem Siddiqui told AKI during a visit of the Injil district of the western Afghan province of Herat, where 150 families have been given the resources to build their homes.