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Some 500,000 Afghan migrants to return home from Iran

Iranian Deputy Interior Minister and Head of the Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants Agency Ahmad Hosseini said on Saturday that based on the Afghans repatration program, 500,000 migrants are to be repatriated in the current Iranian year (started March 21), IRNA reported from Tehran.

The tripartite Afghan repatriation agreement was jointly signed by Iran, Afghanistan and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva, Switzerland on March 3, 2002 and became effective in Iran on April 9.

Hosseini told IRNA that despite having to return 500,000 Afghans in the current year, Iran is prepared to repatriate up to 800,000 migrants.

Referring to the fact that the migrants are repatriated via two border areas of Taibod in Khorasan province and Milak in Sistan and Baluchestan province, he called on Afghan migrants to get signed up for returning home at nine registration centers in nine provinces.

"The process of Afghan migrants sign-up for repatriation has been underway at nine provinces of Tehran, Sistan and Baluchestan, Khorasan, Isfahan, Kerman, Yazd, Qom, Central and Fars since the onset of last Iranian year," he noted.

He put the number of Afghan migrants currently residing in Iran at 1.9 million, which is to drop to 1.4 million by the end of the current year.

Hosseini, also the head of the Iranian interior ministry's refugee crisis headquarters, said so far no refugees have been sighted near the Iranian borders.

The official said that though any possible Iraqi refugees are unlikely to turn to Iranian borders, Iran will extend humanitarian aid toward any refugees who might settle at the edge of Iranian borders inside Iraqi soil.

"Some 50,000 Iraqi refugees are said to have settled in seven Iraqi villages near Iranian southern borders, who are quite unlikely to trun to Iran, given the relief aid provided," he concluded.

... Payvand News - 4/5/03 ... --

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