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Afghanistan situation: Emergency preparedness and response in Iran, 20 July 2021

Situation Report
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No mass influx into Iran yet although new arrivals have increased.

Contingency plan not yet activated. If activated, the Iran Government estimates an influx of 500,000 over six months, with an assumption that their stay will be temporary. Meanwhile, UNHCR’s initial planning figure is of 150,000 new arrivals over three months upon activation of the contingency plan, scalable depending on developments.

UNHCR is focusing on preparedness, for example by pre-positioning Core Relief Items (CRIs) and carrying out joint site assessments.


▪ Afghanistan is currently witnessing the highest number of conflict-related causalities on record, with on average 500-600 security incidents per week. During the first quarter of 2021, the number of recorded civilian casualties resulting from conflict were 29% higher than in the same period in 2020, according to UNAMA.

▪ As of 11 July, the Taliban claimed to hold 85% of Afghanistan after taking key border crossings.
Fighters said they have seized the border town of Islam Qala (a main conduit of trade and population movement with Iran). Reportedly, Government control of the territory has reached its lowest level since 2001.

▪ Four Priority Areas for Return and Reintegration (PARRs) are under Taliban control in the provinces of Nangarhar (two), Kunduz and Baghlan. The four PARRs are Majjboorabad, Shekh Mesri, Sher Khan Bandar and Shahrak Mohajreen.

▪ The Taliban have said they plan to present their peace plan to the Government of Afghanistan in August, and that the peace talks and process will be accelerated in the coming days. The Afghan Government has publicly welcomed the development, even if the timeline is ambitious, stating it will help them to understand what the Taliban want.

▪ In the past weeks, UNHCR in Herat (Afghanistan) has not been able to issue security clearance for Afghans to voluntary repatriate, in view of the prevailing and uncertain security conditions. Around 30 persons have been stranded in Dogharoun (Iran) while awaiting clearance and are being accommodated at the UNHCR/BAFIA compound. The families’ return intention is linked to the deteriorated economic situation and loss of income in Iran. They received counselling on security developments in Afghanistan, of which they were not aware.
Although UNHCR has the capacity to provide those stranded at the border with shelter and food, should their number increase, UNHCR will have to explore supplementary accommodation and food services.

▪ UNHCR is concerned about the documentation status of these individuals, should clearance not be received for their movement to Afghanistan, as their exit visas are expiring and their Amayesh cards may not be reissued. Given the continuously deteriorating situation along the Afghan border and in PARRs, discussions are ongoing on how to improve information-sharing with refugees, to ensure their decision to return is informed and voluntary. UNHCR also continues to advocate for vulnerable Afghan persons of concern’s access to documentation.

▪ Meanwhile, as of the end of May, the estimated number of deportations of undocumented Afghan citizens increased by 346% compared to the same period last year and continue to take place as of July. Approximately 290,000 Afghans were deported by end of May 2021, compared to 65,000 deported by end of May 2020.