Afghan deportees from Iran return to a home they barely know

Afghan deportees from Iran return to a home they barely know

Around 25,000 Afghans a month are deported from Iran at Islam Qala along with another 30,000 a month who cross returning home voluntarily.



By (AP)

Published: Wed 22 Apr 2015, 2:03 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 8:40 PM

Afghan deportee, Tajigul Haidary, 26, presses her temples during an interview with The Associated Press, at the Afghanistan-Iranian border point. AP

Afghan deportee, Tajigul Haidary, 26, presses her temples during an interview with The Associated Press, at the Afghanistan-Iranian border point. AP photos

Islam Qala, Afghanistan — Tajigul Haidary had overstayed her residents’ visa in Iran and was expecting just a hefty fine when she went to renew it, she said. Instead, she was arrested as an illegal immigrant, imprisoned, held in a transit centre with hundreds of other Afghans and, early this week, deported at a dusty border point back to Afghanistan.

It’s a homeland that she hardly knows. Her family took her to Iran when she was nine years old. Now 26 years old, she is married to another Afghan in Iran, has a 4-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter and is five months pregnant. When she was deported, she was wrested away from them.

“My husband tried his best to get me out but they wouldn’t listen to him. My children cried, but it made no difference. I don’t know what to do. I have to get back,” she said, tugging at the voluminous black chador warn by many Iranian women, as she sat on a plastic chair in a shed at the Islam Qala border crossing.

Around 25,000 Afghans a month are deported from Iran at Islam Qala along with another 30,000 a month who cross returning home voluntarily. Iran has long been an outlet for Afghans, either searching for work to escape poverty or seeking refuge from their country’s wars and instability.

An Afghan deportee child rests on the ground in a reception tent, at the Afghanistan-Iranian border point on the outskirts of Islam Qala in Herat province, west of Kabul, Afghanistan.

An Afghan deportee child rests on the ground in a reception tent, at the Afghanistan-Iranian border point on the outskirts of Islam Qala in Herat province, west of Kabul, Afghanistan.

During a visit by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to Tehran on Sunday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told him that the issue of Afghans in Iran “must be settled.” Rouhani said Afghans living in Iran would be registered “so that the government can make appropriate decisions about them.”

“Individuals who want to carry out business activities or study need to do so under legal requirements of obtaining visas,” Rouhani told journalists after the talks.

Millions fled from Afghanistan to its neighbours Iran and Pakistan during the 1979-1989. The UN refugee agency UNHCR has helped repatriate some 5.8 million Afghans who voluntarily agreed to return home. 


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