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Iran’s threat to expel Afghan refugees draws flak

Iran’s threat to expel Afghan refugees draws flak

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May 12, 2019 - 20:32

MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): The forcible deportation of Afghan refugees from Iran is against bilateral agreements and international laws, participants of a gathering in northern Balkh province said on Sunday.

The gathering in Mazar-i-Sharif criticized Iran’s deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi after he threatened to expel Afghan refugees from the country in retaliation for US sanctions.

Araghchi said Wednesday that if US sanctions bring Iran crude exports to zero, “it is possible that we ask our Afghan brothers and sisters to leave Iran” because hosting them annually costs the equivalent of several billion dollars.

Some three million Afghan refugees live in Iran. Araghchi’s remarks drew strong criticism from Afghanistaninfo-icon Refugee and Repatriation Ministry officials.

The gathering at the Balkh Refugee and Repatriation Department was attended by the department officials and civil societyinfo-icon activists to condemn the Iranian official’s threat.

Balkh refugee department head Syed Mohammad Massoud Qaderi told Pajhwok Afghan News on the sidelines of the gathering that the Iranian deputy foreign ministry’s statement was provocative, irresponsible and against all international norms.

He said the latest threat of forced deportation had deeply concerned the Afghanistan government, the Refugee Ministry and Afghan refugees living in Iran.

However, he said what said by the Iranian deputy foreign minister was his personal view as the Afghan government was closely following refugee affairs with the Iranian government. Qaderi also said the Afghan government would use all its influence to halt any possible forced deportation of Afghan refugees from Iran.

He lamented Iran during the past four months forcibly expelled 29000 Afghans, including 500 families belonging to Balkh province, and dumped them at the Islam Qala border crossing.

He said Afghanistan was yet to reach the level where it could embrace all its refugees and provide facilities to them at home.

Civil society alliance head Hamid Sefwat said in the current situation, Afghanistan lacked the ability to accept its five million refugees.

He said Afghanistan remained in a state of war and a large number of areas were ruled by insurgents and a mass deportation of refugees would further complicate the situation.

The activist said if the refugees were sent to Afghanistan, they would not be able to find houses and jobs and would finally indulge in illegal activities which would create problems for the government.

He said when the Afghan refugee ministry lacked resources to construct offices for its departments, how would it respond to the influx of refugees.

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