AFP, February 14, 2008


Iran deports Afghans despite call for winter halt

Some of those who had returned had been held in a camp at Safed Sang, between the Iranian town of Mashad and the border with Afghanistan

KABUL - Kabul is seeking an urgent meeting with Teheran about the deportation of Afghans, the government said on Wednesday, with 7,000 forced out in the past month despite a pledge to halt expulsions over winter.

Afghan refugee are being deported from Iran
at least 200,000 Afghans have been deported to Afghanistan from neighbouring Iran. A deported man showed his stained shirt and said, "they [Iranian security forces] kept on punching and kicking me in the face and head while I was bleeding".
IRIN News, April 30, 2007

Iran has agreed to the meeting but a date has yet to be set, foreign ministry spokesman Sultan Ahmad Baheen told AFP.

The United Nations and Afghan officials say about 7,000 Afghans have been deported to Afghanistan since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced a temporary halt in mid-January for ”humanitarian reasons.”

Most of the returnees are Afghans who were in Iran illegally to work.

Teheran had also told the government it would suspend the returns until the end of winter, Baheen said.

“We do not have the capacity to receive a mass return of Afghans,” he said. “We need to find a solution for those who have no documents.”

“We are also insisting that all returns should be voluntary and with dignity.”

Some of those who had returned had been held in a camp at Safed Sang, between the Iranian town of Mashad and the border with Afghanistan, where the conditions were described as “very bad,” he said.

Iran estimates there are about 1.5 million Afghans illegally living within its borders with another 900,000 there as registered refugees.

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