Hundreds of migrants return daily from Iran, many still attempt illegal crossings

As daily repatriations continue, hundreds of migrants from Afghanistan are sent back from Iran, yet many still attempt to enter Iran through illicit means. Driven by rising poverty and job scarcity in Afghanistan, these individuals endure arduous journeys, risking extensive hardships to seek better opportunities.

A key route used by smugglers is through Herat’s Kalata-ye Nazar, where the perilous journey to Iran begins. Migrants, including children and teens, take on this dangerous path, hoping to reach Iran and secure a brighter future.

One 14-year-old from Herat, who has already made five unsuccessful attempts to cross into Iran, reflects the dire circumstances driving these efforts. “I go to work and support my family,” he said. “This is my fifth time trying to get to Iran; four times through this route and once via the Mosa Abad route.”

Smuggler Shah Mahmoud, operating in Herat, describes the critical moments of the journey: “This area is zero point with Iran. Travelers gather here, and by evening prayers, we move towards the border. God willing, we make it to Iran; if not, authorities capture us and send us back via Taybad.”

The journey on foot can take up to 20 hours, with migrants facing not only physical strain but also significant risks. Nazir Ahmad, a resident of Herat, said: “My brother is in Iran, and another brother and my unemployed father are at home. I attended school until the eighth grade but couldn’t continue my education.”

With the Taliban’s recent return to power, both Iran and Pakistan have witnessed a surge in migration from Afghanistan. Just last week, Iran’s Interior Ministry urged undocumented migrants to return to their home country.

According to statistics from the Taliban’s refugee department at the Islam Qala border, an average of 800 to 900 Afghan citizens are returned daily from Iran. Current figures from the Taliban’s Ministry of Refugees indicate that over five million Afghan migrants are residing in Iran.