The International Organization for Migration, or IOM, says the repatriation of Afghans from Iran has increased dramatically over recent weeks, stating that over 12,000 undocumented Afghans have returned--willingly or by deportation—just over the past week.
The organization cited the US’s sanctioning of Iran as a main reason for the increase of Afghans returning back across the border.
Figures by the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation, or MRR, show that 440,000 undocumented Afghans returned to the country from Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan over the past 11 months.
According to the ministry, 220,000 of the undocumented Afghans were deported from Iran while 170,000 others returned voluntarily from Iran in the same time period.
But, according to IOM, the total number for 2019 is less than 2018, when one million undocumented Afghans returned to Afghanistan from Iran and Pakistan.
“When Afghans leave their country without any papers and go to Iran and other countries, they are deported because they do not have any documents and any act by them is a violation in the host country,” said MRR spokesperson Abdul Basit Ansari.
“At least 450,000 people have returned from Iran and Pakistan between the beginning of the year and late November--and most of them have returned from Iran,” MOI spokesman Haris Pardis said.
There is only one migration information center in Kabul, and it provides online help as well as face-to-face consultation.
Officials at the center said those who contact them are mostly asking about illegal rather than legal migration.
“We have received calls from people who have asked us ‘How much will you charge us for going to Turkey?’ But we have advised them that it is not a good option, ‘You can apply for a visa,’” said Shir Husain Hunaryar, a coordinator of Improving Migration Management.
According to the figures, the return of Afghans from Pakistan is many times less than the returnees from Iran, but both countries host millions of undocumented Afghans.
MRR figures show that so far this year, 22,000 Afghan refugees voluntarily returned or have been deported from Pakistan and 27,000 Afghan refugees have been forcibly returned from Turkey during this period.