Afghan refugees who have returned home from Iran said economic problems and unemployment have made life difficult for Afghans living in the neighboring country which hosts roughly three million refugees from Afghanistan.
Reports indicate that the number of return refugees from Iran is increasing following a sharp rise in the US sanctions on Tehran.
Figures by International Organization for Migration (IOM) show that 184,185 refugees returned from Iran and Pakistan since January while 97,440 of them were deported.
A weekly figure by the IOM shows that 8,436 refugees returned home from Iran during May 12-18, which shows that more than 1,000 refugees are returning to the country from Iran on a daily basis. Out of this figure, 5,291 refugees were deported.
Mohammad Musa, a native resident of Takhar province in the north of Afghanistan, said he returned from Iran with his family last month.
“Living in Iran is expansive nowadays and it is very difficult for Afghans to afford it. The Iranian currency has lost its value and it is better to live in our own country rather than Iran,” Musa said.
“There is misery in Iran and they (Iranian) are not allowing our children to be enrolled in schools,” said Bahar Gulshan, a return refugee.
Meanwhile, a group of Herat activists and residents at a gathering in Herat city on Sunday raised their concerns over the situation of Afghan refugees in neighboring countries, especially in Iran.
They called on Iranian officials not to involve politics in refugees affairs.
“We call on Iran government not to deport Afghans and not to treat them politically,” said Samia Ahamdi, a civil society activist in Herat.
“The treatment towards refugees is completely disturbing and is against human dignity,” said Omid Nab, a Herat resident.
According to local officials, the flow of return refugees from Iran has increased over the past three weeks.
“The deporting of Afghan refugees and their voluntary return have increased significantly compared to the last year,” said Jawed Nadim, head of the provincial department of refugees and returnees of the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations.
This comes after recently a senior official from Iran’s Foreign Ministry said that millions of Afghan refugees will be expelled from Iran if the sanctions on Tehran are increased.