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Taliban express concern over "problems" Afghan refugees are having in Iran

An official said on Sunday that the Taliban government has expressed concern to Tehran about the challenges facing Afghan refugees living in Iran as fresh allegations of abuse continue to emerge from the neighboring country.

Millions of Afghans who were fleeing armed conflict in their country have been living in Iran for decades.

According to UN High Commissioner for Refugees data for 2022, 2.1 million Afghans are still without legal status, while around 600,000 Afghans with passports live in Iran and around 780,000 are registered as refugees.

Since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in 2021 and international sanctions on their administration resulted in an economic collapse, the number of Afghans entering their western neighbor has increased.

Since then, many have been forcibly deported back to Afghanistan, and there have been more reports of ill-treatment by Iranian security forces against them.

A social media video that went viral this month provided a fresh insight into the struggles faced by Afghan refugees in Iran. At least one video clip shows a group of topless Afghan men kneeling on sand and being chained together and being flogged with belts.

Over the last year, additional videos have emerged showing allegations of abuse by criminal gangs and human traffickers in addition to Iranian police.

According to Abdul Muttalib Haqqani, a spokesman for the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation, "There is no doubt that Afghans have faced many problems in neighboring Iran."

Haqqani further said, "We have talked to Iranian officials...and shared with them such concerns and problems of Afghans."

According to a report released last August by Amnesty International, which also included details of the forced repatriation and torture of Afghans, Iranian security forces have "illegally killed" at least 11 Afghans.

The uprising against Iran's diplomatic missions in Kabul and Herat began in April last year after a video of Afghan refugees being mistreated in Iran went viral.

Despite these reports, Afghans are migrating to Iran in search of a better life, according to Dr. Azad, a social worker based in the western province of Herat.

According to him, "about 80% of Herat residents are facing poverty and financial difficulties." "Almost every family from Herat province travels to neighboring Iran to find employment while they wait to be able to feed their families.

Those who have a passport and do not have any documents have faced difficulties with the Iranian authorities. However, the issues facing Afghan refugees in Iran are complex and sometimes do not directly involve Iranian officials, according to Attaullah Khogyani, an Afghan activist based in Tehran.

Refugees from Afghanistan face many problems in Iran. In some cases, they are forcibly deported to Afghanistan after being arrested and severely beaten, according to Khogyani, a refugee rights expert who spoke with Arab News by phone.

He further added, “There are some groups who kidnap Afghans and then demand money from them, also take away their passports and other legal documents.

They complained, "Our neighbors do not treat us well at all and do not offer us support or help." "The Afghans are going through a lot right now."

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