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Iran: Afghanistan

Volume 461: debated on Monday 11 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received of Iran’s decision to expel illegal Afghan migrants; and what steps she plans to take in response in Afghanistan. (140156)

We have received a number of reports from our embassies in Tehran and Kabul about the expulsion of illegal Afghan immigrants from Iran. The Iranian Government estimates that there are about 1 million unregistered Afghans in Iran who do not have refugee status and it has made it clear that it intends to expel them. Iran is also host to 1 million documented Afghan refugees.

In mid April the Iranian authorities launched a repatriation campaign for these illegal refugees, focusing particularly on moving them out of Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan (with the movement of 3,000 refugees from Iran into the Afghan province of Nimroz in the first month of the campaign).

Against a backdrop of public and parliamentary disquiet the Government of Afghanistan is looking at ways to manage the situation. It has convened its National Emergency Response Commission, with the Refugee Ministry in the lead. The Afghan Foreign Ministry is in discussions with Iran to ensure better procedures to deal with the return of Afghan nationals.

We remain in touch with the Government of Afghanistan and office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees on this issue.