Afghanis sent home from Iran are now internally displaced

Afghanistan -- Church World Service's (CWS) Pakistan/Afghanistan office reports that Afghanis that have been deported by the Iranian government as illegal refugees are scattered across Afghanistan's three western provinces of Herat, Farah and Nimroz. CWS, a member of ACT International, says that UN reports put the number of returnee refugee families that have been registered by the Afghanistan government at 564 in Farah Province, while a further 500 families that have not been registered are believed to be spread over the various districts. Some 4,500 returnee families have been reported as arriving in Nimroz Province.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs' IRIN service reports that the Afghan Foreign Ministry had said that some 30,000 Afghan refugees, including women and children, were sent home from Iran in the last week of April alone.

It is unclear how many Afghans work and live in Iran without formal documentation but, according to the report, Iran has indicated that there may be as many as one million people who will be sent home to Afghanistan.

CWS-Pakistan/Afghanistan says that from April 24 to May 5 (2007), the process of deporting Afghan refugees has been going on through the Dogharoon border of Herat Province and Abrishem Bridge of Nimroz Province. Reports have also been received of people being forcibly repatriated and that deportees have said that they have been ill-treated by Iranian security officials.

Returnees are facing huge problems surviving day to day, with a need for food, shelter, and other basic items, especially among the families that are scattered across Farah and Nimroz provinces - both areas where insecurity levels are high, and few aid agencies operate. Herat has fewer returnees and is receiving relatively more assistance, as there are more international and national NGOs and UN agencies operating in the area.

CWS-Pakistan/Afghanistan is monitoring the situation in cooperation with other members of the ACT forum in Afghanistan and has sent a request for Rapid Response Funding for basic food and shelter relief items to be distributed through their local partner Afghan Development Association in the Farah and Nimroz Provinces.

Media Contacts:

Lesley Crosson, CWS/New York, 212-870-2676;

Jan Dragin (24/7), 781-925-1526;