Afghans Can Avoid Deportation, Says BAFIA

Afghans Can Avoid Deportation, Says BAFIAAfghans Can Avoid Deportation, Says BAFIA

Unregistered refugees in the country, mostly Afghans, who enroll their children in Iranian schools will not be deported, says Ahmad Mohammadifar, director general of the Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants Affairs (BAFIA).

"In case they are detained by the police, they can show their children's letters of recommendation for admission in the schools. The letter will save them from deportation," ILNA quoted him, as saying.

The measure has been taken to encourage and facilitate the enrollment of undocumented refugee children in local schools.

In the current school year that started last September, 48,000 Afghan students (children of unregistered refugees) were enrolled in Iranian schools. "But some of them failed to attend classes of their own accord."

Last year, Masumeh Abad, a member of the Tehran City Council said that only 35,000 Afghan students have been enrolled in the country's schools, while there are more than 100,000 undocumented school-age Afghan children in the country.

Earlier, the Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had instructed the government to provide education to all Afghan refugee children, including those living in Iran without legal status.

According to the latest information released by the Interior Ministry, about 11% or nearly 4 million of the total Afghan population is residing in Iran. One million Afghan refugees are registered under the refugee registration scheme "Amayesh" and the remaining are undocumented or illegal residents.

Although many Afghan children are not in the education fold, currently, 360,000 refugees are 'legally' registered in schools across the country, including 330,000 Afghans.

Iran continues to host one of the largest and most protracted refugee populations in the world, despite the voluntary return of hundreds of thousands of Afghan (and Iraqi) refugees to their countries of origin over the past decade.

According to the BAFIA, as of October 2011, the number of refugees registered with the authorities stood at over 882,000 (over 840,000 Afghans and some 42,000 Iraqis). And 97% of all refugees live in urban and semi-urban areas with only 3% in the settlements.