KABUL (Pajhwok): Around 252,000 Afghan refugees returned from Iran and Pakistan during the ongoing solar year, including 135,000 forcibly expelled by Iranian authorities.
According to the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation (MoRR), currently seven million Afghans are living as migrants in different countries. Three million of these refugees live in Pakistan, as many in Iran and the remaining one million in other nations.
Last year, after the regime change, the US and its allies evacuated around 150,000 Afghans who worked with them in Afghanistan during the past years.
Over the past four decades due to wars and poverty at home, a large number of Afghans travel to Iran and Pakistan for residing, work and treatment.
Sometimes they face strange behavior in these countries and most of these refugees who lack legal stay documents are expelled by host countries specially Iran. But still daily a large number of Afghans travel to Iran and Pakistan through illegal routes for work or other purposes.
Refugees forcibly expelled
Pajhwok Afghan News findings show that over 252,000 Afghan refugees have been forcibly expelled from Iran and Pakistan since March 22 this year so far.
The MoRR seldom publishes reports in this regard on its official Facebook page.
Since March this year, Pajhwok Afghan News collected information which shows that over 252,000 refugees — 231,000 from Iran and 78 from Pakistan —- have retuned and majority of them expelled.
More than half of the returning refugees were forcibly expelled by Iranian authorities
During the ongoing year, over 21,000 Afghans refugees returned from Pakistan.
According to MoRR, a small number Afghans who had documents decided to voluntarily return to the country while the rest were without legal documents and had gone to Pakistan for a short time for medical, business or other purposes.
Afghans returned from Turkey
Turkey is a country where most Afghan refugee live after Pakistan and Iran.
According to reports, Turkey expelled 136 Afghan migrants in July and 227 Afghans in May as these Afghans did not have legal documents.
Without going into detail, the MoRR on its website wrote that 823,000 Afghan refugees returned to the country from July 2021 till July 2022.
What returning refugees want?
Najibullah, 25, a resident of Kabul, said he obtained a visa a few months ago and went to Iran to travel to Turkey through illegal routes but he did not succeed.
“Traveling illegally is very difficult, I have experienced a lot of hardships. The restrictions at the Turkish border were too much. We spent several nights in the mountains. I returned to Kabul and I am still unemployed, but I’m striving to find a job and live here,” he added.
Shah Faisal, a resident of the Bagram district of Parwan, who was expelled from Iran a week ago, said he was working in an organization before the political changes in the country, but later he became unemployed and had to go to Iran.
“I went to Iran due to poverty; I worked there for four months and then traveled to Turkey through smuggling routes. The police arrested me along with other friends at the border and deported us back to Iran and after a week of imprisonment, the Iranian government extradited us,” he explained.
He said Afghan refugees were treated badly in Iran and some other countries but they were forced to endure the problems due to unemployment and to travel through difficult routes.
Shah Faisal urged the government to provide job opportunities to people so that no one was forced to travel to other countries.
Ahmad Shah Salim, a former government servant, who voluntarily returned to the country from Iran, said he left for Iran out of fair after some statements were made against the employees of the previous government.
He said if people in Afghanistan were provided with work, no one would be willing to go abroad for work.
Ahmad Shah Saleem added: “Other countries developed due to hard work of Afghan refugees. I wish such opportunities are created inside the country, so that Afghans will work to rebuild their own country and develop it.”
Impact of economic problems on the return of Afghans from Iran
Tariq Farhadi, a political expert, told Pajhwok that political and economic situation in Iran was not good and for this reason the Iranians subjected Afghans to violence and had accelerated the process of repatriating them.
According to him, Iran is facing drought and price-hike as negotiations with the US did not yield positive result.
He said the Iranian government was striving to somehow please its people and for this purpose it was deporting Afghans every day.
Farhadi said the solution was that people should be given jobs inside the country so they were not forced to leave the country.
Pajhwok shared the issue with the deputy spokesman of the Islamic Emirate, Bilal Karimi, and the media office of the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation, but they did not respond.
According to reports, the caretaker government of Afghanistan says it is working on short-term and medium-term plans to reduce unemployment and create jobs in coordination with experts from ministries and related agencies.
Also, the Afghan government has discussed with Iranian, Pakistani and Turkish officials the problems of Afghan refugees in these countries.