Saturday , 25 May 2024

Iran Deported 20,000 Afghan Children Last Year, Taliban Say

iranintl – Last year, Iran deported over 20,000 Afghan children, many of whom have been sent back unaccompanied and without any guardians waiting for them, Afghan authorities stated.

“Around 30 to 40 children without guardians are deported from Iran every day… Last year, 20,000 expelled children were registered with us,” Mohammad Haroon Wahedi, who heads migrant affairs in the Nimroz Province bordering Iran, told Afghan news outlet TOLOnews.

Atiqullah, a 12-year-old Afghan boy recently deported from Iran, confirmed this to TOLOnews, stating that Iranian authorities expelled him without his family. “Out of necessity, I went to Iran to work. I was busy working in a bakery, where I would take four or six loaves of bread home daily,” he said.

Mohammad, another child who was deported, said, “On the way to Iran, I was caught and transferred to Afghanistan, and now I have no money and don’t know what to do.”

Just 3,000 of the children deported from Iran were reunited with their families across various provinces in Afghanistan, according to Alauddin Amiri, the head of labor at the Directorate of Labor and Social Affairs in Nimroz province.

Zubair, another young deported child, said: “We went to Iran due to economic problems… but the Iranian government arrested me, and I want the United Nations to cooperate with us”.

Momen, another deported child, echoed Zubair’s sentiment, saying that he simply wants to return home to his family. They called for financial assistance from both the government and the United Nations.

According to Alauddin Amiri, the head of labor at the Directorate of Labor and Social Affairs in Nimroz, “In the past year, we have been able to transfer nearly 3,000 unaccompanied children who were sent from Iran to Nimroz to their families in different provinces.”

While the exact number hasn’t been independently verified, the Iranian authorities recent actions support the claims.

Earlier this week, the Iranian Interior Ministry issued a directive – saying that it can no longer accept new Afghan arrivals due to the economic crisis and rising public discontent over the increasing number of Afghan migrants, both documented and undocumented. The directive called for all illegal Afghan migrants to leave or face deportation.

On March 21, the IRGC-affiliated Tasnim News Agency reported the initiation of a police plan aimed at gathering and deporting unauthorized immigrants from recreational areas in Tehran Province.

Painting a grim picture for Afghan migrants, Zahra Azizi, an Afghan journalist living in Tehran, told Radio Azadi — the Afghan branch of Radio Free Europe — that migrants are now “not even given bread when they go to bakeries, even the census papers of some of them have been torn up by the police, and hospitals charge Afghan migrants two or three times more money because they do not have insurance.”

Afghanistan’s history of migration, especially to neighboring countries like Iran and Pakistan, has often accelerated due to conflicts including the civil war that began in the late 20th century.

But once the migrants arrive in their new destinations, especially in Iran, they face significant challenges regarding residency, education, and employment.

Reports of the detention and expulsion of foreign nationals from Iran have become increasingly common in recent months. Although these reports often do not specify the nationalities of those affected, it is widely understood that a significant portion are Afghan citizens.

The influx of Afghan migrants into Iran has sparked debate among citizens and officials alike, with differing opinions on whether their presence poses a threat or an opportunity for the regime.

Estimates of the Afghan diaspora population in Iran vary, with precise figures challenging to ascertain due to the reluctance of Afghans to participate in official counts and registrations.