The tale of Afghan Refugees in Iran
Since beginning of the post-Taliban era in Afghanistan, security has stood at the top of Afghan government and international community's agenda. It has thus overshadowed other significant issues including millions of refugees living abroad. Eestablishment of the democratic interim government following the collapse of Taliban in late 2001 opened a ray of hope for Afghans leaving in migration; many were motivated to return back home. But the situation proved contradictory to what they hoped. Many of them are now insisting to remain in migration while living conditions are getting too strict to bear further. Bulk of Afghan refugees are living in the neighboring Pakistan and Iran. Both have intended to expel them. While those living in Pakistan have lived a relatively peaceful life, Afghan refugees in Iran have gone through some highly troublesome and inhuman practices by Iranian regime.
In the most recent initiative, the country's parliament endorsed a provision increasing the living costs for foreign refugees, mainly Afghans, more than tenfold. Under the budget appendix approved by Iranian Parliament, each Afghan will have to pay more than $130 for living in Islamic Republic. Previously, they paid $8 per person.
The return and reintegration in Afghanistan will be challenging for returning Afghans who face unemployment, shelter and basic services, such as health care and education. Afghanistan's unemployment rate is estimated to be at least 30 percent and thousands of young men enter Iran and Pakistan illegally every year in search of work.
Security is meanwhile at its worst since the fall of the Taliban regime with insurgent attacks and crime creeping upwards and Afghans again looking to leave their homeland. Analysts had warned that, in order to create sufficient employment opportunities, the economy has to grow at a quicker pace to absorb more workers in labor markets. Refugees' return to the country will surely heighten the troubles scale and prove extremely intolerable to the government of Afghanistan unless the world community provides enough aids to the government and productive strategies are applied to provide good services to the newly returned refugees. Afghan government officials maintain that the rate of return of refugees to Afghanistan from neighboring countries is causing tremendous stress to the Afghan government and society.
On the other hand, the resurgence of Taliban in the country has made many people believe that the country's young men are turning to the hard line Muslim group. Research Institutes say that many of the new recruits turn to the Taliban as a last resort to escape unemployment and crushing poverty. For many of Afghan youth, the only way out of poverty is through the Taliban or in the poppy and opium trade in the country's southern region. As Afghanistan is severely grappling with the economic, social and insecurity problems, tightening the circle for Afghan refugees or their coercive repatriations will enhance the dilemma in Afghanistan. So, the poor Afghan refugees in Iran are stuck between Iran's brutal and inhuman treatment and insecurity and unemployment in Afghanistan.