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Iran: Population Movement from Afghanistan - Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) DREF Operation n° MDRIR006

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Situation Report
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A. Situation analysis

Description of the crisis

Following the announcement by Coalition/NATO forces that they will withdraw their troops from Afghanistan in July 2021, there has been an increase in internal violence, infrastructure damage, and safety concerns. These circumstances resulted in increased humanitarian needs, internal displacements, and a new wave of displaced people fleeing to neighbouring countries (primarily Pakistan and Iran) to seek refuge and safety. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), it is estimated that since the beginning of 2021 nearly 400,000 Afghans have been internally displaced, some 244,000 since May alone.

According to the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS), nearly 2,000 people have been forced to flee their homes and cross the border into Iran as a result of the development of political instability. The IRCS had already begun to assist them at the Adimi camp in Sistan-u-Baluchistan as of 12 August.

The majority of displaced people are Hazara and Tajik origin, from the following eight provinces/locations: Herat, Balkh, Kunduz, Parwan, Baghlan, Nimruz, Ghazni, and Faryab in Afghanistan. Given the demographic specifications of Afghan families, a large proportion of the displaced will be children, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, single-headed households, the elderly, unaccompanied minors, and people with disabilities will be presented among the new arrivals.

The Iran-Afghanistan border is 921 kilometres long, with border crossing points in three provinces of Khorasan Razavi (connecting to Herat, Afghanistan), South Khorasan, and Sistan-u-Baluchestan in the south. Aside from the official crossing points, there are also unofficial passages used primarily by human traffickers and drug smugglers. Afghanistan and Iran border crossings include Islam Qala in Herat Province of Afghanistan and Taybad in Razavi Khorasan Province of Iran, Abu Nasr Farahi in Farah Province of Afghanistan and Mahirud in South Khorasan Province of Iran, Zaranj in Nimruz Province of Afghanistan, and Milak in Sistan-u-Baluchestan Province of Iran.

If the security situation in Afghanistan deteriorates, forcing people to move towards Iran’s borders, the Iranian authorities could open their borders, screen/vet the newcomers, and transfer them to pre-established camps in three provinces bordering Afghanistan, including South Khorasan, Sistan-u-Baluchestan, and Khorasan Razavi. IRCS has a contingency plan for population movement, including components of shelter, basic needs, and hygiene material, backed by the Movement partners, in case of a growing flow of displaced Afghans.