Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 September 2014, 16:29 GMT

Iran: Information on Afghan refugee status in Iran

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 August 1991
Citation / Document Symbol IRN8049
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Iran: Information on Afghan refugee status in Iran, 1 August 1991, IRN8049, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ad934.html [accessed 23 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

 

Please find the attached articles from Reuters on the

subject of Afghan refugees in Iran.

 According to a representative of the UNHCR in Ottawa, Iran

signed the 1951 Convention on Refugees and, as such, it is

obligated to not refoule people who were granted refugee status

(18 Apr. 1991). This source added that the UNHCR has no

information on the deportation of Afghan refugees back to

Afghanistan. The representative of the UNHCR mentioned that if

the Iranian government does not wish to or cannot give protection or assistance to refugees it can send them to UNHCR refugee camps inside Iran. This source further reported that it is more expensive for the government to send refugees back to Afghanistan than to have the UNHCR take care of them in their camps. However, as long as the Iranian authorities do not send them back to Afghanistan (and do not therefore violate the 1951 Convention) there is nothing that the UNHCR can do. The representative indicated that when people are granted refugee status they should receive protection against refoulement. A representative of the UNHCR office in Geneva added that Afghan refugees are not entitled to Iranian nationality (20 Aug. 1991). This source further reported that there were cases of deportation of Afghans who were accused of criminal acts. It is very difficult for people who are facing deportation to benefit from any kind of appeal procedure. A form of discrimination exists in the area of employment opportunities, this source added. Afghan refugees are relegated to a certain type of manual labour and it is impossible for an Afghan, even if he/she is well educated and has specialized qualifications, to work for the government. However, this policy is not directed against Afghans in particular but applies to all foreigners in Iran.

 A representative of the U.S. Committee For Refugees in

Washington reported that Iranian law guaranteed Afghan refugees

in Iran reasonable freedom of movement (19 Aug. 1991). However,

in practice, the Afghan refugees receive little assistance from

the government. The UNHCR relief efforts constitute their main

source of assistance inside Iran. Afghan refugees suffer

discrimination in the work place. Because they generally receive

the lowest wages and they are limited in their socio-economic

mobility, Afghans are at the bottom of the socio-economic scale,

which means their earnings are at a subsistence level. On the

question of nationality, the source indicated that he has met

with Afghan refugees who had lived in Iran for a long time and

had not been able to receive Iranian nationality. Repatriation of Afghan refugees to Afghanistan had occurred, but the source did not know if this movement was forced or voluntary. These refugees were mainly going back to the city of Herat. The source in Washington mentioned that if the Iranian government wishes to

deport someone or a certain group of people there is nothing one can do to appeal such a decision.

 An Associate Professor of Political Science at Columbia

University who is a specialist in Afghan affairs stated that

Afghan refugees are free to move around in Iran (19 Aug. 1991).

This source mentioned that Iranians (especially urban people)

have a prejudice against Afghan refugees. However, this source

also indicated that this was not the result of a government

policy but a sociological phenomenon. Afghans mainly hold menial

jobs that are not filled by Iranians. Educated Afghan refugees

may have difficulty finding government jobs since one must be

Iranian in order to be eligible. Cases of deportation of Afghan

refugees to Afghanistan by the Pasdaran have been reported. The

Pasdaran (or Revolutionary Guards) conduct arrests of Afghans in refugee camps or neighbourhoods with a high density of refugees. The reason usually is that the Pasdaran suspect these Afghans of engaging in criminal activities or have unsettled disputes with them. In the event of a deportation, the Afghan refugees do not benefit from any effective rights to appeal deportation procedures. This source added that, by definition, Afghan refugees are not citizens of Iran.

 A representative of the Refugee Policy Group in Washington

reported that Afghan refugees in Iran are encouraged to integrate into Iranian society (19 Aug. 1991). Afghan refugees are facing discrimination from the Iranian population. However, this source added that the Iranian official policy is not the source of this discrimination. The representative of the Refugee Policy Group in Washington indicated that Afghans cannot own land but are allowed to own a business or a house. There is a distinction between registered and unregistered Afghan refugees in Iran. Registration is a tight screening process through which the refugees are put, including quarantine and the issuing of identity papers. The government assigns a place to stay according to the principle of family reunification. The registered Afghan will have access to work, education, the national Health Care system and food rations like other Iranians. Registered Afghans, however, may encounter some difficulties in travelling around the country. They will need the permission of local authorities to travel freely. The source in Washington added that he was aware of a case where an Afghan employee had to obtain a letter from his employer which stated that he was going to a specific area for work-related reasons. There were cases of the rounding-up of unregistered Afghans by security forces. These Afghans were either deported across the Afghan border or placed in what the source in Washington called "Control Centres", which were under the supervision of the government. These unregistered people were used for jobs that were either very low paying or not paid at all. Although the source did not know if Afghan refugees were entitled to Iranian nationality, he indicated that he knew some Afghans who acquired Iranian nationality through bribery. Some repatriation has taken place and it was on a voluntary basis.

 Further information on this subject is currently unavailable to the IRBDC in Ottawa.

 For more information on the situation of Afghan refugees in

Iran please find the attached articles on the subject.

 Bibliography

Associate Professor of Political Science, Columbia University. 19 August 1991. Telephone interview.

Refugees. April 1990. Benamar, Mohammed. "More Than Three

Million Refugees."

. April 1990. Gaudé, Michel. "Assisting the Afghans."

. November 1988. Billard, Annick. "Integration a Priority."

Refugee Policy Group in Washington. 19 August 1991. Telephone interview with a representative.

Reuters. 14 December 1989. "Iran to Close Pakistani Border to Afghan Refugees."

. 5 December 1989. "Six Afghans and Iranian Hanged for

Child Sex."

UNHCR Office in Ottawa. 18 April 1991. Telephone interview with a representative.

UNHCR Office in Geneva. 20 August 1991. Telephone interview with a representative.

U.S. Committee For Refugees in Washington. 19 August 1991.

Telephone interview with a representative.

World Refugee Survey 1991. U.S. Committee For Refugees. New

York and Washington.

World Refugee Survey 1989. U.S. Committee For Refugees. New

York and Washington.

World Refugee Survey 1988. U.S. Committee For Refugees. New

York and Washington.

World Refugee Survey 1987. U.S. Committee For Refugees. New

York and Washington.

World Refugee Survey 1986. U.S. Committee For Refugees. New

York and Washington.

World Refugee Survey 1985. U.S. Committee For Refugees. New

York and Washington.

World Refugee Report. September 1989. Bureau of Refugee

Programs, Department of State. U.S. Government.

 Attachments

Refugees. April 1990. Benamar, Mohammed. "More Than Three Million Refugees."

. April 1990. Gaudé, Michel. "Assisting the Afghans."

. November 1988. Billard, Annick. "Integration a Priority."

Reuters. 14 December 1989. "Iran to Close Pakistani Border to Afghan Refugees."

. 5 December 1989. "Six Afghans and Iranian Hanged for

Child Sex."

World Refugee Survey 1991. U.S. Committee For Refugees. New

York and Washington.

World Refugee Survey 1989. U.S. Committee For Refugees. New

York and Washington.

World Refugee Survey 1988. U.S. Committee For Refugees. New

York and Washington.

World Refugee Survey 1987. U.S. Committee For Refugees. New

York and Washington.

World Refugee Survey 1986. U.S. Committee For Refugees. New

York and Washington.

World Refugee Survey 1985. U.S. Committee For Refugees. New

York and Washington.

World Refugee Report. September 1989. Bureau of Refugee

Programs, Department of State. U.S. Government.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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