As many as 5000 Afghans Crossing into Iran Daily Claims Aid Group

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) reported that around 4,000 and 5,000 Afghans are fleeing into Iran each day via informal border crossings, 

“Thousands of exhausted women, children and men are crossing from Afghanistan into Iran every day in search of safety. Iran cannot be expected to host so many Afghans with so little support from the international community. There must be an immediate scale up of aid both inside Afghanistan and in neighboring countries like Iran, before the deadly winter cold,” said the Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) Secretary General Jan Egeland on a visit to Iran. 

The NRC is on the ground in Iran supporting hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees, who have been sheltering in the country for much longer – some for decades. 

NRC said that a fraction of people have returned to Afghanistan but those arriving continue to rise and may increase due to the worsening Afghan economy, the approach of winter,r and harsh freezing temperatures. 

“We’ve heard heartbreaking stories from families that have recently arrived in Iran. One refugee said they were targeted for being Shi’a Muslim, their few remaining possessions were taken, their house burned, and they had to flee multiple times within Afghanistan before reaching Iran. They were told that their daughters would be married off to fighters as soon as they reach the age of 10,” said Egeland. 

The United Nations refugee agency’s (UNHCR) appeal to support Afghans fleeing to neighboring countries calls for nearly US$300 million to help up to 515,000 people that may flee before the end of the year. The appeal is only 32 percent funded so far. About US$136 million of the total appeal funding is needed to support Afghans in Iran, according to the statement. 

NRC commended Iran for continuously taking in Afghan refugees but called on the international community to support efforts of other neighboring nations. 

According to the NRC,  Afghans represented one of the world’s largest refugee caseloads and that their return home is expected to be difficult. 

Nearly five million Afghans remain displaced outside of the country. Of these, 90 percent are hosted by the Islamic Republics of Iran and Pakistan.

Some 3.6 million Afghans reside in Iran, although only 780,000 are recognized as refugees.

Iran is second largest refugee hosting country in the world following Turkey, if all Afghans were recognized as refugees. 

Iran is among the most COVID-affected countries in the region. Close to six million people have been infected, while the number of reported COVID related deaths is over 126,000. Iran has been vaccinating Afghan refugees, including those undocumented. 

The UNHCR has called for a suspension of forced returns of Afghan nationals, including asylum seekers who have had their claims rejected and was supported by the NRC

UN added that more than half of Afghanistan’s population is in need of humanitarian assistance.

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