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    Thousands of half-Afghan kids refused Iranian citizenship

    KABUL (PAN): Iran has been refusing to give birth certificates to thousands of children born to mixed families -- Afghan and Iranian parents -- depriving them of their right to education as they remain vulnerable and marginalised.

    The Islamic Republic has completely banned marriage between Afghan men and Iranian women. If they do wed, the government does not officially register the marriage, giving rise to tens of thousands of unrecognised or so-called illegal marriages—32,000, according to governmental statistics.

    Under a new law enacted by the Majlis, children born to Iranian mothers and foreign fathers will now be granted legal residency in Iran, but not citizenship.  Iran has long considered that nationality goes with the father, not the mother.

    However, Afghan refugee ministry spokesman Islamuddin Jurat has told Pajhwok Afghan News that Iran had not yet provided them an exact figure for such marriages.

    He said when Afghan and Iranian officials met in Tehran for talks in January this year over issues facing Afghan refugees, the Iranians said children born to mixed families could use passports of their parents until the age of 18. He said Iran had issued birth certificates to up to 7000 children born to mixed families over the past six months

    According to refugee minister Jamahir Anwari, Iran has issued legal stay documents to 800,000 Afghan refugees living in the neibouring country.

    But Iran's Interior Ministry says a decision had been made to "end the status of asylum for 700,000 Afghans" by March 21, 2015.

    Iran and Afghanistan, along with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, agreed on a voluntary repatriation program in 2002 in the belief that with better security at home.

    Afghanistan shares a language, cultural and historical links with its oil-rich western neighbor that has for years been a destination for Afghans seeking work or fleeing war.

    In May, Iran threatened to expel Afghan refugees and migrant workers, in all about 2.4 million people, if Afghanistan signed a strategic security pact with the United States. The deal was struck.

    Afghan officials said Afghan refugees and migrants were becoming the victims of big political games played between the Iranian and US powers.

    ma



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