Visa Extension for Afghan Refugees

Visa Extension  for Afghan Refugees Visa Extension  for Afghan Refugees

Tehran agreed to extend permits for 450,000 Afghan refugees whose temporary visas were due to expire this month to allow them to stay in the country for another six months.  

The foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday that the agreement came following talks between Iranian officials and Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Afghanistan Mohammad Mohaqiq in Tehran, IRNA reported.  Tehran and Kabul have also agreed to establish a joint committee to take necessary measures to arrange for the repatriation of those refugees.

Based on an estimate by the Afghan government, 760,000 Afghan refugees who have no documents are living in Iran. Now based on the new arrangement, 310,000 of them have to leave the country upon the expiry of their temporary visas.   

According to the United Nations, there are almost one million registered Afghan refugees in Iran, most of whom arrived before 2001 when US-led troops toppled the hard-line Taliban regime.

But those who arrived afterward are required to have their permits assessed on an individual basis, making it harder for them to obtain the paperwork needed to be officially registered, according to the United Nation’s refugee agency.  

Since 2002, the UN agency has helped more than 900,000 Afghans return home from Iran, but the number has dropped off and next year just 20,000 people are expected to be voluntarily repatriated, a fraction compared with previous years.