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Political Counselor Discusses Forced Repatriation of Afghan Refugees from Iran

 

On November 12, Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari discussed the recent expulsion of several thousand Afghan refugees from Iran with the Voice of America. In light of the recent meeting of Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Farahi with the Iranian chargé d'affaires in Kabul, Haidari strongly urged that Iran observe its international obligations toward Afghan refugees and comply with the key provision of the tripartite agreement among Afghanistan, Iran, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on the voluntary and gradual repatriation of Afghan refugees.

 

He explained the specific measures taken by the Afghan government to assist returnees, including land distribution under the Shelter project, basic relief aid provided by the Afghan Red Crescent, and monetary support provided by UNHCR. However, he identified factors such as cold weather, insecurity, and a lack of aid resources from the international community that hinder the Afghan government in receiving and integrating large numbers of refugees from Iran.

 

Moreover, he noted that Afghan refugees are not “economic migrants,” but rather served as a much-needed labor force willing to work for low wages in their host countries. “In Iran, most Afghans are simply making both ends meet, and are waiting to return home as soon as the conditions allow,” Haidari said. “Over the past six years, more than four million Afghans had voluntarily returned home, and that the rest will eventually do the same without being pressured or forced to leave the host countries prematurely.”

 

Haidari reiterated the appeal of the Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees Cheng-Hopkins, who visited Iran last August, calling on the Iranian government to avoid forced repatriation of Afghan refugees and to allow them to return home voluntarily.

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