The Harrowing Situation of Afghan Refugees
According to the reports, Iranian authorities have deported 1,500 Afghan youth immigrants to pressurize their families to leave the country. Herat immigration officials have said that the children deported from Iran are aged between 10 and 18 and many of them get separated from their families that are living in Iran. Afghan officials say that presently over two million Afghan immigrants are living in Iran while only half of them have documents.
During the last decade, forced deportation of Afghan refugees from Iran has been an unsolved issue between Iran and Afghanistan and the Iranian authorities have periodically carried out mass deportation of Afghan immigrants. The deportations have been considered as serious violation of human rights and the unprotected immigrants. There are agreements between governments of Afghanistan and Iran as well as the United Nations to prevent forced deportation of the refugees and help them voluntarily return and resettle in Afghanistan.
But Iran is not always abiding by the agreements as it has repeatedly attempted to deport the Afghan refugees in the country in mass. Though the pace of forced deportations of Afghan refugees has slowed down in recent years, but still many Afghans are deported or even get tortured or killed by Iranian police and border guards. The plight of Afghan refugees continues in Iran as there are reports about more and more cases of violence and deportation of the refugees by Iran’s police and border forces.
Recently, there have been reports that more than eighty Afghan workers who attempted to cross to Iran’s borders had been missing after they came under fire from Iranian border guards. From about 300 who attempted to cross Iran’s border only 200 returned back safe and an uncertain number of them were wounded or even killed. The reports sparked protests against Iran in the western city of Herat. Despite pledges by Afghan officials for probing the reports, the issue remained uninvestigated.
As now there are reports about forced deportation of under-aged Afghans, the Foreign Affairs Ministry and other relevant agencies should act to clarify the issue and negotiate with the Iranian authorities to end the sufferings of the Afghan refugees. Deporting children by Iran is against human rights norms and the international laws which Iran is obliged to abide by. Despite having signed the international convention for protecting children, Iran has continued violating rights of Afghan immigrant children in the country.
Afghanistan needs to pursue a coherent supportive policy for the Afghan refugees around the world particularly in neighboring Iran and Pakistan. Neglecting the harrowing situation of Afghan refugees in other countries such as Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Greece, and Malaysia-Indonesia will only make the situation even worse. Afghan refugees have suffered unabatedly during past years and, of course, there would no end to their suffering in near future. As the citizens of Afghanistan, the refugees and asylum seekers are exposed to dangers and violation of their rights in the routes to their target countries. Such a protective policy by the government of Afghanistan would help protect the rights of Afghan immigrants in neighboring and other countries.