NIMRUZ, 15 May 2007 (IRIN) - Forty-eight-year-old Zahraa lived in the eastern Iranian city of Zabul for more than 12 years with her husband and two sons. On 8 May she was deported to Afghanistan for illegally staying in the country. She gave IRIN an account of what she said was her forced journey to Afghanistan.
"It was 10.00 am when somebody banged our door. My husband went to see who was out there. I could hear several men talking loudly to my husband. A few minutes later three police officers came into our yard and began yelling: 'You have only one hour. Hurry. Hurry.'
"The police told us to leave our home for good within one hour and go to Afghanistan.
"My husband was shocked - so was I. I begged the uniformed men to give us some time, but my husband said it was useless and that we had to leave. I could not believe it. How could we leave everything and go to Afghanistan at once?
"I started crying and declined to pack up our movable goods. I whimpered and said my sons are out at work and that we would not leave in their absence. We begged the police to give us only two days to inform our sons and collect all our belongings. But the police did not pay heed to our demands. When we started defying them and declined to leave, the police got angry and started beating my husband with their batons.
"I was howling and struggled through to protect my husband. In doing so I received several blows on my back and legs. Then, while we were crying in a corner they [the police] started collecting our stuff. As they did so, they insulted us and used indecent words against all Afghans. One police officer told my husband that now that the Americans are in Afghanistan they should solve our problems. My husband only said that we are all Muslims.
"We were then taken to a deportees' centre by truck. It was around 5.00 pm when we reached it. There were hundreds of other Afghans in the centre, some of whom had suffered similar hardships. The centre had a few dirty toilets, plastic beakers and several halls filled with children and desperate women and men. We were not given anything for dinner. Some people, however, paid for biscuits and other foodstuffs for their children.
No means of communication
"Next morning we were driven to the border in big trucks. We were dropped near the bridge on the Iran-Afghan border. There were hundreds of people like us crossing the bridge to Afghanistan.
"For the last two days we have been staying with another family in a tent in this camp [deportees' transition centre in Zaranj, the provincial capital of southwestern Nimruz province in Afghanistan]. People are very kind here and we have received free food. But we are told we have to leave this place soon. We have no money and I do not know how we will be able to travel to our native province Bamyan [in central Afghanistan].
"We are also worried about our sons. We know they also will be deported - sooner or later. We do not have means of communication here. We just want to let our sons know that we are safe here in Afghanistan."