Creating new perspectives since 2009

Thousands of Afghan refugees flee daily to Iran, rights groups say

November 11, 2021 at 9:12 am

In this picture taken on October 19, 2021 Afghans who were forcibly deported back from Iran to Afghanistan walk towards the border between Afghanistan and Iran at Islam Qala port. [HOSHANG HASHIMI/AFP via Getty Images]

Some 4,000 to 5,000 Afghan refugees are fleeing daily into neighbouring Iran since the Taliban took control of their country in August, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said yesterday.

“Many Afghan refugees called their relatives telling them they are on their way to Iran and many want to go on to Europe, so Europe should be less occupied with a few thousand [refugees] sitting on the Polish-Belorussian border,” NRC’s Secretary-General, Jan Egeland, said after a visit to refugees around Kerman province in eastern Iran.

According to the NRC, an estimated 300,000 have fled Afghanistan into Iran since the Taliban takeover.

“There is no economy, there is very little assistance, and there is too little shelter and food for millions and millions in need,” Egeland said.

Egeland praised Iran for hosting millions of Afghans for the past four decades and said the international community must now step up and show support. “How can you expect Iran to shoulder this responsibility on their own?” he said.

Egeland urged wealthy countries to provide humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and neighbouring countries “before the bitter winter” season.

‘Largest operation ever’: UN official hails Turkey for sheltering over 4 million refugees 

Earlier on Tuesday, Iranian Interior Minister, Ahmad Vahidi, said his country has several thousand people at its border with Afghanistan every day, warning that a fresh wave of Afghan refugees might attempt to enter Europe if help is not provided.

Over the past few weeks Europe has been concerned by the number of refugees entering its territory from Belarus. Thousands of people have converged on the border this week, where razor wire fences and Polish soldiers have repeatedly blocked their entry. Some of the migrants have used logs, spades, and other implements to try to break through.

The bloc’s 27 ambassadors are expected to agree that the growing numbers of migrants flying to Belarus to reach the EU border amount to “hybrid warfare” by President Alexander Lukashenko—a legal basis for new sanctions on Belarus.

Lukashenko’s government blames Europe and the United States for the plight of the people stranded at the border.

The crisis erupted after the EU, the United States and Britain imposed sanctions on Belarus over its violent crackdown on mass street protests that were sparked by Lukashenko’s disputed election victory in 2020.