Domestic Economy

Iran Approves Residency Permits for 1 Million Afghan Refugees

Iran Approves Residency Permits for 1 Million Afghan Refugees
Iran Approves Residency Permits for 1 Million Afghan Refugees

Iran’s Interior Ministry says it has approved residency permits for more than one million Afghan refugees living in the country.
Director General for Foreign Nationals and Immigrant Affairs of Iran’s Interior Ministry Sadiq Rezadoost said all nationals who came to Iran after political developments in Afghanistan last year, or who were given papers in the past years, should not worry because their papers will be extended, Ariana News reported.
“The residence permits of more than one million Afghan citizens have been extended; Afghan citizens should not worry, because their papers will be extended after this date and the conditions for their return to Afghanistan have not yet been provided,” said Rezadoost.
“A special residency card is also issued for those who are working in this country,” he added.
Officials of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations say there are currently more than three million Afghan refugees in Iran and only one million of them have residency documents.
“In Iran, we have approximately three million refugees, of which two million still do not have residency documents,” said Abdulmutallab Haqqani, the spokesman of MoRR.
“The ministry of refugees has tried to get Iran to give them a residence permit so that they obtain all the rights for immigrants, according to international laws,” he said.
However, experts say Afghan refugees living in neighboring countries are facing many problems and challenges.
Recently, a quadrilateral meeting of the representatives of Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the International Organization for Migration was held in Iran to solve the problems of refugees.
In a meeting with Acting Higher Education Minister of Afghanistan Mawlawi Abdul Baqi Haqqani and after a scientific discussion last year, Iranian ambassador in Kabul, Bahador Aminian, vowed to provide scholarships to Afghan students.
Haqqani asked the ambassador to assist Afghanistan in the sector of education, Bakhtar News Agency reported.
The Iranian envoy invited a technical delegation from Afghanistan’s Ministry of Higher Education to visit Iran and take a close look at Iran’s education system and use its experience.
He assured the Afghan Ministry of Higher Education of providing educational scholarships to Afghan students and teachers.



Afghan Child Labor in Iran on the Rise 

According to Fatah Ahmadi, Iran’s deputy minister of justice for human rights and international affairs, the number of Afghan child laborers in Iran has increased 20-fold since the Taliban assumed power.
He was quoted as saying by IRNA last year that the Taliban presence in Afghanistan was producing instability for families and elevating child labor in Iran.
He made the remarks on the occasion of the World Day Against Child Labor.
The Taliban’s dominance in Afghanistan has forced a wave of families to flee to Iran with their young children, he added, noting that the children have been employed to start a new life.
As Afghanistan’s Khama Press News Agency reported, with the Taliban’s presence, labor resources, industries and companies, both public and private, have ceased to operate, and as a result, poverty and inflation spread among Afghans.
An increasing number of Afghan families have found refuge in neighboring Iran after the Taliban government reneged on its promise to allow girls to go to school in March, the Middle East Eye said in a report.
“About 5,000 Afghans have been crossing the border to Iran on a daily basis since the Taliban took over the neighboring country,” Javad Hedayati, a senior official with the Road Maintenance Organization, affiliated with the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development, said in April last year.
“The number only takes into account legal migrants, that is those holding passport and visa. There is no record on the number of illegal migrants crossing the border to Iran. In fact, most of the incoming refugees from Afghanistan enter Iran through illegal means,” he was quoted as saying by ILNA.
Most of the migrants leave Afghanistan in search of work or economic opportunities. 
Iran shares a 900-kilometer border with Afghanistan and hosts one of the largest refugee populations in the world, made up mostly of Afghans who have arrived over the past 40 years.



NRC’s Call for More Funding

The Norwegian Refugee Council has called for more funding and responsibility sharing amid the growing rate of Afghan migration to Iran. 
“Iran cannot be expected to host so many Afghans with so little support from the international community. There must be an immediate scale up of aid both inside Afghanistan and in neighboring countries like Iran,” said the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Secretary-General Jan Egeland during a recent visit to Iran.
According to NRC, while a fraction of people have returned to Afghanistan, the number of arrivals continues to rise. In addition, the country’s economy is in freefall and the humanitarian crisis is intensifying. 
“We commend Iran for welcoming and hosting millions of displaced Afghans for the past four decades. But now the international community must step up to support Afghanistan’s neighbors and share the responsibility to help them to continue welcoming refugees. Afghans represent one of the world’s largest refugee caseloads. Now return conditions are set to become ever more elusive,” the NRC chief said.
While a large number of Afghan refugees are not moving toward Europe yet, all rich nations should both ramp up aid and keep their borders open to those fleeing conflict and persecution. European nations, including Poland, must stop deporting Afghan asylum-seekers and review all failed applications in light of the crisis, the NRC added.
Iran’s Interior Ministry has already warned the international community that if the economic problems of Afghanistan are not solved, the world will see another wave of migrants.  
Ahmad Vahidi, Iran's interior minister, said the freezing of Afghan assets and the lack of humanitarian aid are the main reasons for triggering a new wave of migrants.  
“If these migrants don’t stay in Iran, where will they go?” he said.  “They will go to the borders. We have returned some people from the border with Turkey.”



Afghans Made Half of Foreign Investments in Iran 

Afghan nationals are responsible for half of Iran’s foreign investments in 2022 alone, stated Hassan Kazemi Qomi, the Iranian ambassador to Afghanistan.
“Afghan nationals in Iran play a pivotal role in the national economy. Half of Iran’s foreign investment comes from them, therefore, the high capacity of Afghan citizens should be utilized when the country is facing difficulties in attracting foreign investment,” he added.
Qomi noted that in the past year, the UAE expelled 700 Afghan businessmen from this country, whose capital was estimated at $30 million. "Unfortunately, we failed to attract this capital and encourage Afghan traders to invest in Iran,” he added.
Currently, Iran is facing a major challenge in attracting foreign investment. To address the issue, the Iranian government needs to come up with a comprehensive policy to ensure that Afghan business owners can legally run their businesses and other economic activities without facing hurdles. In the past, the bank accounts of Afghan citizens were blocked for vague reasons, which was a big blow to foreign investment, the news agency wrote.
The estimated assets of Afghan businessmen and companies operating in Khorasan Razavi Province is around $1 billion, according to the Association of Afghan Economic Activists in the northeastern Iranian province.
To capitalize on the existing opportunity by providing work permits, visas and license to Afghan citizens, Iran can attract more foreign investors from Afghanistan, the region and beyond, the report said, adding that Iran is home to thousands of Afghan citizens, including business people, students and refugees. Despite the increasing problems confronting Afghan refugees, they have lived in peace and harmony for many years in Iran.

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