Iran to Expel 400,000 Afghan ‘Illegal’ Migrants
Following Pakistan’s footsteps, Iran plans to expel about 400,000 Afghan migrants living illegally in the country. The expulsion directive comprises of eight stages – identification, detention and deportation of unauthorized nationals. But this has been underway since March 2023.
Hamzeh Soleimani, the Director General of Citizenship and Foreign Nationals Affairs of Kermanshah Province, confirmed that the settlement and employment of Afghan citizens are currently prohibited in several provinces.
“Numerous housing construction projects, greenhouses, horse stables, and livestock farms underwent inspection under the plan, leading to the arrest and expulsion of Afghan workers from the province.”
Afghan citizens are prohibited in 15 Iranian provinces, including East Azarbaijan, West Azarbaijan, Ardabil, Zanjan, and others.
Iran, Afghan Taliban Worsening Ties
Following August 2021, hundreds of thousands of Afghans fled Afghanistan to neighboring Pakistan and Iran to escape the Taliban regime. However, both Pakistan and Iran are struggling with economic crisis and share deteriorating ties with the Taliban.
Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said the dire economic conditions in Iran continues to fuel anger toward the migrants, with the number of Afghans forcefully deported back to their country rising. Moreover, Iran’s plans to deport undocumented Afghans come amid worsening ties with Afghanistan’s de facto Taliban rulers – Taliban militants have engaged in deadly clashes with Iranian border guards in recent months. There’s also a dispute over cross-border water resources.
However, Iran has hosted millions of Afghans for more than four decades despite harsh western sanctions and lack of international aid.
Afghan Migrants Radicalization
Afghan migrants have never had it easy. And things are getting much tougher with the Taliban regime back in power. Afghanistan has been isolated. Since 2022, there has been a steady increase of forcibly displaced people in the country.
A growing number of voices in Iran want the government to address the presence of Afghans in the country as a significant security threat. Nouri Qazaljeh, a renowned member of the Iranian Parliament, described the influx of Afghan immigrants over the last two years as a security and economic threat.
Activists in Iran are concerned about radicalization of Iranian society because of the growing number of Afghans, holding anti-women and radical beliefs, in the country.