Iran, Pakistan agree to register illegal Afghans
Multiple agreements reached at a meeting involving officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Tehran about a week ago, Syed Hussain Almi Balkhi told reporters in Kabul.
Balkhi, who attended the meeting, said Pakistan and Iran agreed to register all illegally residing Afghans in the two countries and grant them refugee status.
He said under the agreements, Afghanistan would identify these refugees and in this regard, bilateral committees would be formed and the bodies would start their job over the next one month.
The minister said nearly three million Afghans were living illegally in the two countries and as many legally. The meeting in Tehran also supported voluntary repatriation of the Afghan refugees, he said.
Without elaborating, Balkhi said: “It was also agreed that Afghan refugees living in prohibited areas illegally will be issued legal documents in the same areas.”
He said Iran agreed to extend the stay of Afghans whose visas had expired and that the cases of Afghans in Iranian jails would be investigated by a bilateral committee. Tehran would grant health insurance to one million Afghans, he said.
“Iran promised that no Afghan child either from a legal Afghan family or illegal will be deprived of education,” said the minister.
He said earlier Afghan children whose families lived in Iran without legal stay documents were not allowed to attend school. Currently 350000 Afghan children were enrolled in Iranian schools, he said.
Balkhi said he presented a proposal at the meeting under which every returning Afghan family would be given $3000 and in this regard, Afghanistan had sought $166 million in aid and some donor countries had pledged assistance as well.
The amount would be spent on building homes and other facilities for returning Afghan families, said the minister.
Currently, the UNHCR gives $200 to each Afghan refugee family returning Afghanistan.
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