TEHERAN/KABUL: In line with Iran’s target to deport undocumented Afghan refugees, hundreds of Afghans are reportedly being sent home every day.
Almost 130,000 undocumented Afghan refugees have been forced to return home so far this year by the Iranian government. Voice Of America (VOA) reported that hundreds are being sent home every day in line with Iran’s target to send back 600,000 Afghans by the end of the year.
“Last week, 7,695 Afghan refugees returned from Iran, 60-65 percent of whom were deported involuntarily,” Hafiz Ahmad Miakhel, spokesman for the Afghanistan Ministry of Refugees and Returnees was quoted as saying by VOA.
“The majority of them were young individuals, but some were families, including women and children.”
This comes amid an ever growing number of return refugees to the country not only from Iran but also from Pakistan and Europe.
Aid officials estimated that more than 700,000 refugees returned to Afghanistan in 2016, while this year return refugees continue to return home – not all voluntarily.
In January, analysts projected that up to 2.5 million more refugees would return over the next 18 months, which would add nearly 10 percent to Afghanistan’s population.
The UN Migration Agency (IOM) inaugurated a substantial expansion of its Torkham Transit Center in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province for undocumented Afghan returnees from Pakistan.
More than 55,000 undocumented Afghans have returned from Pakistan between January 1 and May 18 this year – double the number of returns during the same period in 2016 – the highest return year on record.
IOM’s Deputy Director General, Laura Thompson, visited the Torkham border crossing as part of her three-day mission to Afghanistan.
IOM’s DDG also met with CEO Abdullah Abdullah, the Ministries of Refugees and Repatriation and Social Affairs, and UN and donor partners.
IOM has been providing post-arrival humanitarian assistance to undocumented returnees from Pakistan at the Torkham border crossing since 2012. In order to better respond to the continuing and growing influx of returnees, IOM recently completed a significant expansion of one of its four Transit Centers located on Afghanistan’s borders with Pakistan and Iran, where returnees receive assistance including household supplies, food, temporary accommodation, medical care and onward transportation assistance to their final destination in Afghanistan.
The expansion work at the Torkham Transit Center has doubled the accommodation capacity, with the ability to host 30 families or 210 individuals at any one time.
The capacity of the Transit Center warehouse has also been increased allowing IOM to stock 1,000 family assistance packages and the clinic has doubled in size.
At the beginning of May, IOM issued an updated funding needs document outlining the need for $52.8 million USD in support to assist 292,000 returnees from Pakistan and Iran through March 2018.