Afghan refugees in Iran complain of harassment

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Afghan refugees in Iran complained over their deteriorated condition, saying they havebeen facing harassment there. Many of them lack legal documents, including visas.

“I went to Iran four months ago. But due to their bad treatment even with people who had visas, I went to the police and surrendered myself to come back to Afghanistan,” said Sayed Mumtaz, an Afghan refugee who returned back to the country.

“The big problem is lack of residential documents. Many people have recently come to this country,” said Nasrullah Kashani, an Afghan refugee in Iran. A video being circulated on social media shows Afghan refugees being harassed and tortured in Iran.

“With the negotiation of our team with the Iranian officials, it was realized that there is a need for international cooperation,” said Asifa Stanikzai, a women’s rights activist. The Islamic Emirate urged the Iran government to treat the Afghan refugees well.

“The Afghans have recently faced a lot of problems. Although we know that some Afghans are going by illegal ways, they must be treated with soft conduct based on Islamic and neighborly values,” Islamic Emirate’s Spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said.

The Iran embassy in Kabul denied any harassment or torturing of Afghan refugees and said that the video that is making the rounds on social media is fake.

“The videos which are airing on social media are aiming to affect the deep and historic ties between the nations of Iran and Afghanistan,” said Sayed Abas Badrifar, press councilor of the Iran embassy.

Analysts say that the Afghan refugees should be provided their basic rights. “A refugee should have access to health services and education. A refugee should not be deported to his country because his life is under threat and then a refugee should not be punished while being deported,” said Mehdi Afzali, an international relations analyst.

This comes as millions of Afghan refugees are based in the neighboring countries of Iran and Pakistan. According to the Iranian officials, around five million Afghans are living in Iran, with many of them lacking legal documents.

TOLOnews reporter Waheeda Hassan interviewed some of the refugees who claimed to be deported from Iran by force. The deportees from Iran include women and children.

“The police took us in a vehicle and then brought us to a base. The people were starving and were thirsty and some people were there for one or two months,” said Hayatullah, an Afghan refugee deported by Iran.

Akbar Khan, who was working as a laborer in Iran, gave an account of rough treatment by Iranian forces with him.

“We were in the prison for four days. They (Iran police) gave us one loaf of bread for six people. There was no medicine for the patients. They were beating us. All the money we had in our pockets, they took it from us,” he said.

Naqibullah Rasikh, an Afghan refugee rights activist in Iran, said that between 1,000 and 2,000 Afghan refugees who don’t have legal documents are being deported on a daily basis.

“The refugees living in Iran without any (legal) documents are facing accommodation problems and job problems, these refugees that are being returned to Afghanistan are not satisfied,” he said.

Officials of transportation companies that are active on the Kabul-Herat highway said that the number of people being deported by Iran has recently increased. “Deportation of Afghan refugees by Iran has increased over the last month,” said Naseer Ahmad Arghandiwal, head of a transportation company.

Meanwhile, Afghan refugees living in Iran are facing various types of other problems as well. “Spikes in food materials, spikes in house rent, lack of ID cards and lack of jobs are the problems that the Afghan refugees are struggling with,” said Niamatullah Alokozai, an Afghan refugee in Iran. —Tolonews

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