Iran is reportedly deporting hundreds of Afghans every day with the number sent back to their home country reaching 130,000 so far this year. As World Refugee Day is marked on Tuesday, Afghanistan is struggling with a growing number of returnees not only from Iran but also from Pakistan and Europe.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has set up centers near the Pakistan crossing to register and provided the refugees with cash assistance and basic goods supply for a month.
For many Afghans, this is the first time they have stepped on their homeland. Matt Graydon, Public Information officer for IOM, explained that many people left Afghanistan 20 or 30 years ago during the Soviet-Afghan War and now have children or grandchildren born in Pakistan.
The returnees face “a very steep challenge… they may or may not have family connections,” Graydon said.
More than 600,000 Afghans “returned” to their home country last year from Pakistan, along with another 300,000 from Iran. As one of the world’s poorest nations, almost two million Afghanistan citizens are internally displaced, and they are struggling to meet basic needs. Fears are growing for this vulnerable population.