Iran expels Afghan refugees; protests in Kabul

Tehran has expelled tens of thousands of Afghans from Iran since mid-April, with authorities saying they will repatriate 1 million unregistered Afghan refugees over the next years. The UNHCR says it is powerless to intervene as those being forcibly repatriated are not legally registered refugees. But several repatriated Afghans told RFE/RL that Iranian authorities had confiscated and destroyed their registration cards before expelling them from the country. But Afghans affected by the campaign claim that even legally registered refugees are being forced to leave. They say those who remain in Iran face pressure that makes it difficult for them to survive. Kabul’s Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta said Iran should immediately stop repatriating large numbers of Afghans because Afghanistan does not have sufficient resources to help them resettle. (RFE/RL, May 3)

Hundreds of people rallied in Kabul to protest Iran’s expulsion of the refugees May 2. Some 500 people marched on the Iranian embassy carrying banners condemning Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his forces as “devils.” One banner read, “Islam has no borders, we condemn Iran’s brutal act.”

Around 20,000 refugees have been dropped across the border in Afghanistan’s Nimroz province, among them women who were picked up from the streets, Nimroz governor Ghulam Dastageer Azad has said. “Among the forced returnees here, there are women who have left family members in Iran, there are people who have left their accounts unsettled in Iran,” said Azad. (IranMania, May 2)

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