Iran to deport undocumented Afghan migrants, stresses no welfare services

Afghan nationals in Islam Qala border town, Herat province. File photo.

A senior Iranian official declared that Iran will not extend welfare services to undocumented Afghan immigrants, urging them to return to Afghanistan. Ehsan Haydari, the director general of foreign citizens and immigrants in Tehran, according to Iranian media, stated that refugees lacking proper documentation should repatriate.

This announcement coincides with Pakistan’s plans to initiate the second phase of forced deportations of undocumented Afghan refugees in mid-April. Human rights advocates have condemned the deportation policies of Iran and Pakistan as harsh and callous, calling for actions in accord with international standards.

Haydari also cautioned against employing undocumented Afghan refugees, warning that such employers would face legal repercussions. “Undocumented Afghan refugees will receive no welfare services and should return to their country. Employers hiring undocumented immigrants will be subject to legal action,” he stated.

Refugee rights activists are urging for substantive measures to mitigate the refugees’ plight. Asifa Stanikzai, a refugee rights activist, highlighted the urgency of diplomatic discussions to halt and organize these deportations, noting the policy’s escalation over recent years.

Analysts perceive the refugee policies of Iran and Pakistan as politically motivated tactics to exert pressure on the Taliban. “There is no doubt that Pakistan’s government is leveraging the Kabul administration and the Taliban to achieve its political, economic, and security objectives,” stated Basir Ahmad Sharifi, an international relations analyst.

Following the Taliban’s ascendancy, both Pakistan and Iran have intensified efforts to expel Afghan refugees. The international community, including human rights organizations like Amnesty International, has voiced strong opposition to Pakistan’s deportation practices, advocating for the protection of refugees’ rights by host nations.