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Afghanistan 6th Least Prepared Nation for Climate Impacts: UN

Endres expressed his concerns over the effects of climate change in Afghanistan….reports Asian Lite News

The UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Afghanistan Daniel Peter Endres has said that Afghanistan ranks as the world’s sixth vulnerable, least-ready country to address the impacts of climate change, TOLO News reported.

Endres expressed his concerns over the effects of climate change in Afghanistan.

In a video released by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Afghanistan, Endres said: “Over the past 70 years, Afghanistan has experienced rising temperatures, declining rainfalls and unprecedented levels of deforestation.”

Meanwhile, the Taliban-appointed spokesman of the State Ministry for Disaster Management, Mullah Jan Saiq, said that if the current impacts of climate change are not addressed in Afghanistan, it will cause huge damage to the country. The Taliban ruled government has also objected to not being invited to COP28 Climate summit in Dubai despite being a country vulnerable to Climate change.

Mullah Janan Saaiq, spokesman of the disaster management ministry, said in a video that Afghanistan is affected by climate change and that the representative of the Islamic Emirate should have been invited to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 28) in the United Arab Emirates. Mullah Janan Saaiq said if the representative of the Islamic Emirate was invited to the meeting, after the discussion, they would have focused on reducing greenhouse gases and its dangers in Afghanistan. According to Saaiq, nearly 20 million people in Afghanistan were affected by climate change last year

TOLO News also reached out to some farmers who shared their deep concerns about climate change’s effect on their harvests.

A farmer, Sadiq Khan, said: “There is a severe drought in the country. Farming is very challenging and the harvests are not good in their seasons.”

This comes as the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference known as COP 28 hosted by the UAE invited no representative from Afghanistan. (ANI)

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UNAMA: Surge in Violence Against Shia, Hazara in Afghanistan

UNAMA called for support for individuals at risk….reports Asian Lite News

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said the country has witnessed an increase in violence against the Shia and Hazara communities in the past month in the provinces of Kabul, Balkh, and Herat, Khaama Press reported.

UNAMA called for support for individuals at risk.

This comes in response to the recent attack on Shia Muslims in the Herat province, which has prompted strong reactions.

Four days ago, six individuals, including four men and two women, were killed as a result of gunfire by unidentified armed individuals in Herat.

As per reports, this incident occurred in the Hazara-populated area of “Jibril” in the city of Herat, where all the victims were riding in a rickshaw. Before this, on November 23, two Shia clerics were killed in an armed attack in Herat.

In the past month, dozens of people, including women have been killed and injured in separate attacks on a bus and a sports hall in the Hazara-populated area of “Dasht-e Barchi” in Kabul.

Following the recent attack in Herat, hundreds of people, including women in the province have protested during the funeral processions of the victims.

The Human Rights Defenders Assembly and Richard Bennett, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan for the United Nations Human Rights Council, have also condemned the attacks on Shia Muslims in Afghanistan, according to Khaama Press.

The Human Rights Defenders Assembly has criticized the lack of restraint in the face of these attacks on Hazaras and Shia Muslims in Afghanistan, who have been subjected to collective and individual assassinations, bombings, and targeted attacks. So far, no individual or group has claimed responsibility for these attacks. (ANI)

ALSO READ: Taliban Minister Slams Afghanistan’s Poor Quality of Education

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Taliban Minister Slams Afghanistan’s Poor Quality of Education

Habibullah Agha asked the Taliban and religious scholars to pay serious attention to raising the quality of education….reports Asian Lite News

Afghanistan’s Taliban-appointed Acting Minister of Education Habibullah Agha has criticized the poor quality of education in the country’s religious schools, TOLO News reported.

Habibullah Agha asked the Taliban and religious scholars to pay serious attention to raising the quality of education.

The Taliban-appointed minister, while speaking at the graduation ceremony of about 120 students from Darul-Ulom Imam Abu Hanifa’s 12th and 14th grades, said that the number of religious schools in Afghanistan has increased in comparison to the past and that students are given good facilities in this area.

Agha noted: “In my point of view, the quality of education is becoming weaker day by day, although seeking education has become easier. There was a time when students could not find a book.”

Meanwhile, the officials of Darul-Ulom Imam Abu Hanifa stressed about improving the quality of education in religious schools, saying that not only religious sciences are taught in this Darul-Ulom, but also contemporary sciences.

“In our Darul Ulom, not only religious sciences but also contemporary sciences are taught, so these graduates, in addition to religious sciences, also include students from contemporary sciences, and today about 120 people graduated from this Darul Ulom,” said Abdulhai, head of the Imam Abu Hanifa Darul-Ulom, as per TOLO News.

A number of Imam Abu Hanifa Darul-Ulom graduates from the 12th and 14th grades asked the Taliban to provide them with employment opportunities in the country.

A graduate said: “There is no equivalency between knowledge and ignorance. So, we must study and be educated. Those young people who are educated and talented, the Islamic Emirate must provide them with work.”

About four thousand students are now enrolled to study religious and modern sciences at Darul-Ulom Imam Abu Hanifa, which was established in the Bagrami district of Kabul province in 1323 solar year, according to official records. (ANI)

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UNSC Afghanistan Meeting This Month

Analyst Sayed Muqdam Amin suggested that the meeting’s value lies in establishing a stability mechanism, recognizing Afghanistan, and clarifying its status….reports Asian Lite News

The UN Security Council (UNSC) has said that it will convene for its quarterly open briefing on Afghanistan in December, TOLO News reported.

As per the UN statement, the special representative of the UN Secretary-General and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Roza Otunbayeva; Ambassador Jose de la Gasca (Ecuador), the Chair of the 1988 Afghanistan Sanctions Committee; and a representative of civil society are expected to brief.

Head of the National Solidarity Movement of Afghanistan Sayed Ishaq Gailani said: “They should take fundamental action to benefit Afghanistan in the future, not to addict them (Taliban) with food assistance”, as per TOLO News.

A political analyst Sayed Muqdam Amin said: “The meeting could be beneficial in case it brings a mechanism for stability in Afghanistan and recognition of Afghanistan and specifying the status of Afghanistan.”

This comes as the Taliban said that meetings without the presence of its envoys would be meaningless.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said that the international community is trying to put political pressure on it.

“Unfortunately, the world has politicised all humanitarian, climate change and economic issues and they want to use all of the issues as a political tool, which is not right,” he said, as per TOLO News.

In an earlier document accessed by TOLO News, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres recommended a roadmap for the reintegration of Afghanistan into the international community. (ANI)

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Afghan Crisis Spills Into Pakistan

Over 370,000 Afghans reportedly left Pakistan since October 1, following Islamabad’s pledge to remove over a million undocumented refugees, predominantly of Afghan origin…writes Asad Mirza

For the last two months, the international attention has focused on the continuing Gaza crisis, yet in its background another human tragedy has been unfolding in Pakistan, noticed by few except the humanitarian agencies.

Reportedly, more than 370,000 Afghans have fled Pakistan since October 1, after islamabad vowed to expel more than a million undocumented refugees, mostly Afghans.

However in a significant ruling, the Supreme Court of Pakistan observed on December 2 that the country is a signatory to the UN conventions safeguarding the rights of refugees and these agreements bind Islamabad from doing so.

Earlier, an apex committee, chaired by Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar ul Haq Kakar, on October 3 had issued a deadline for foreign nationals to depart voluntarily or risk deportation by Pakistan by October 31.

Reportedly, this was to affect some 1.7 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan but also members of other persecuted communities including China’s Uyghurs and Myanmar’s Rohingya.

While the majority of the over 4 million Afghans living in Pakistan has been in the country since the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, between 600,000 and 800,000 Afghans are believed to have arrived in Pakistan after the Taliban took over power in 2021.

Displaced children play at an internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp in Kabul, capital of Afghanistan, on Nov. 20, 2021, the World Children’s Day. (Photo by Saifurahman Safi/Xinhua/IANS)

Pakistani Crackdown

As per media reports, Police and other officials have carried out mass detentions, night raids, and beatings against Afghans. They’ve seized property and livestock, and bulldozed homes. They’ve also demanded bribes, confiscated jewellery, and destroyed identity documents. Pakistani police have sometimes sexually harassed Afghan women and girls and threatened them with sexual assault.

Among those being deported or coerced to leave are people who would be at a greater risk of persecution in Afghanistan, including women and girls, human rights defenders, journalists, and former government employees who fled Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover in August 2021.

Some of those at risk had previously been promised resettlement in the US, UK, Germany, and Canada, but resettlement processes are not proceeding quickly enough.

The UN Refugee Agency has said that the arrival of hundreds of thousands of people into Afghanistan “couldn’t have come at a worse time”, as the country faces a prolonged economic crisis that has left two thirds of the population in need of humanitarian assistance, and now, winter is setting in.

The new arrivals often come with almost nothing, because Pakistani authorities have prohibited Afghans from taking out more than 50,000 Pakistani rupees ($175) each.

Humanitarian agencies have described shortages of tents and other basic services for those arriving.

The area of Torkham — the crossing point between Pakistan and Afghanistan — lies just outside the city of Jalalabad.

The Taliban regime has converted this area into a massive tent city, bereft of civic amenities, to accommodate the influx from Pakistan.

Photo taken with mobile phone on Aug. 22, 2021 shows trucks waiting to cross border at a border crossing point between Pakistan and Afghanistan, in southwest Pakistan’s Chaman. (Str/Xinhua/IANS)

Souring of Pak-Afghan Relations

Since 2021, Islamabad has attempted to close its border with Afghanistan with little success. Apparently, as expected the bilateral relationship between the two countries after the Taliban’s takeover of power in Afghanistan didn’t worked out on expected lines.

The present regime is not the same lot as the earlier Taliban. This time around they were surer of themselves and instead of following Pakistani diktats through ISI, the Taliban charted a new course of their own.

The relationship even soured more, once the new Taliban government started fencing along the border on the Durand Line. Added to that was the issue of free trade between the two countries, which stopped flow of goods into Afghanistan via Pakistan twice over the last two years.

Pakistan has also implemented several measures to tighten the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (ATTA), which critics say has been misused, for smuggling goods back into Islamabad.

Additionally, over the past year, there has been a surge of militant attacks inside Pakistan, with most claimed by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a close ally of the Taliban.

Pakistani authorities have blamed Afghan migrants in part for the rise in attacks.

Last week, a Pakistan Air Force base was attacked in Mianwali, the capital of the Punjab province, though most attacks take place near the long border with Afghanistan, where Islamabad says the TTP has safe-havens.

When the decision to deport refugees was announced, Interim Minister Sarfraz Bugti had stated that out of the 24 suicide bombings in Pakistan this year, Afghan nationals carried out 14.

The Taliban regime in Kabul has denied involvement and has done little to allay Pakistan’s security concerns. Refusing to take back any refugees, Kabul also disapproves of Islamabad’s repatriation plan.

As tempers rise, Taliban interim Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund has criticised Pakistan’s decision to expel refugees, saying that Islamabad had violated international laws, while his deputy Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai has warned the neighbouring nation “not to force their hand to react over the move”.

Hostility is so deeply entrenched against Afghans that Jan Achakzai, caretaker minister in Balochistan province, has said that the expulsion of refugees would continue, “no matter which political government comes to power after the elections”.

The tenure of the current caretaker government will end in February 2024.

Though the current situation may have arisen due to Pakistan’s own economic woes, in addition to its souring relationship with the Taliban, yet, the major sufferer in this case is the common Afghan.

In this backdrop it becomes the duty of international humanitarian agencies and western governments to take cognisance of the issue and start a slew of measures to ensure care of Afghan citizens and also try to get relations patched up between the two neighbouring countries.

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Torkham Border Closed For Afghan Nationals Sans Documents

This decision is particularly significant given the annual influx of thousands of Afghans, particularly those with severe medical conditions like cancer, seeking treatment in neighbouring countries, with Pakistan being a common destination….reports Asian Lite News

The Torkham border, a crucial crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan, has been shut for Afghan nationals lacking passports and visas, as the Pakistani government intensifies efforts to repatriate Afghan migrants, Khaama Press reported on Sunday.

The information and culture department in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province issued a statement confirming the closure of the Torkham border for patients lacking proper documentation, including visas and passports.

Previously, patients without passports and visas were permitted to enter Pakistan through the Torkham crossing, subject to approval from the Ministry of Public Health in Afghanistan.

This decision is particularly significant given the annual influx of thousands of Afghans, particularly those with severe medical conditions like cancer, seeking treatment in neighbouring countries, with Pakistan being a common destination, according to Khaama Press.

Pakistan’s recent move to tighten border controls and repatriate Afghan migrants coincides with the United Nations Human Rights Office’s earlier call on Pakistan to cease the expulsion process, citing the potential for a “human rights catastrophe.”

The expulsion of Afghan migrants is unfolding amid a harsh winter, exacerbating the already critical humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Forced to leave, Afghan migrants are grappling with challenging conditions, especially considering the severe winter weather, which further compounds the dire humanitarian situation in the country.

In response to these developments, Pakistan’s Supreme Court has initiated a review of a petition filed by human rights activists on Friday.

The petition urges the cessation of the expulsion of Afghan refugees from Pakistan, highlighting the ongoing legal and human rights dimensions of the situation, Khaama Press reported.

Over 253K Repatriated From KP

As part of the ongoing drive to repatriate illegal Afghan immigrants in Pakistan, a total of 253,068 people returned until December 2 through three border points in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province of Pakistan, ARY News reported on Monday.

A Pakistan-based media outlet reported, citing the KP Home Department, that 248,890 immigrants were repatriated through Torkham, 3,479 people through Angor Adda Waziristan, and 698 people via Kharlachi Kurram district.

Moreover, a total of 5064 people including 114 from Islamabad, 873 from Punjab, and 24 from Azad Kashmir were deported through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Earlier, the caretaker Provincial Information Minister Jan Achakzai reiterated the government’s resolve and said that the illegal immigrants will be repatriated to their own country at any cost.

Addressing a press conference, he said the government has set a target of deporting 10,000 immigrants every day. So far 135,000 illegal immigrants have returned to Afghanistan and this process is gradually progressing towards success, ARY News reported.

He said that Afghans were involved in sixteen attacks in different bomb attacks and sabotage incidents during one year.

ARY News reported that the government has decided that ten thousand illegal immigrants will be sent to Afghanistan every day, reiterating that anyone who has an Afghani Tazkira or any other document cannot escape following the government policies regarding one document regime.

He stressed that Pakistan has decided to crack down on terrorism, whether from across the border or within the country.

Iran’s Curbs

Iran has prohibited the entry of Afghan nationals and their settlements in 16 provinces of Iran, according to Khaama Press, citing Iranian media.

The Director-General of Foreign Nationals and Immigrants Affairs in the Iran’s Kermanshah Province, Hamza Suleimani, reported that undocumented immigrants in these provinces will be detained and deported.

Following this, the governor of Kermanshah announced that since March 2023, eight phases of a plan to identify, detain and deport undocumented immigrants have been implemented in Kermanshah Province.

According to the report, entry, presence, and settlement in the Iran’s provinces of East Azerbaijan, West Azerbaijan, Ardabil, Zanjan, Kurdistan, Kermanshah, Ilam, Lorestan, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad, Gilan, Mazandaran, Sistan and Baluchestan, Hormozgan, and Hamedan have been declared prohibited.

Moreover, as per the report published on Saturday, a considerable number of Afghan workers employed by Iranian employers have been detained.

This came as 2000 Afghan migrants forcibly and voluntarily returned to Afghanistan on Friday.

Notably, the expulsion of Afghan migrants and refugees from Pakistan and Iran has surged in the past weeks, according to Khaama Press.

Earlier this week, Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Wahidi said the country will deport Afghan immigrants who lack permits, TOLO News reported.

As per Iranian media reports, Wahidi said that there are currently 5 million Afghan refugees living in Iran.

Some refugee rights activists expressed concerns regarding the situation of Afghan immigrants in Iran.

Immigrants’ rights activist Mohammad Khan Talibi said: “The Afghan immigrants in Iran are facing challenges due to not having legal living permits.” (ANI)

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US Officials Due in Pakistan to Discuss Afghanistan, Other Issues

Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), mentioned that both nations are reciprocating visits to expedite the consultation process….reports Asian Lite News

United States officials will visit Pakistan in December to hold consultations about several issues including the ongoing situation in Afghanistan, according to Geo News.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) Spokesperson, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said that the two countries are also exchanging visits in a bid to speed up the consultation process.

She further said that important US officials are visiting Pakistan over the coming days, according to Geo News.

Islamabad has been continuously blaming Kabul for rising terrorist attacks and usage of Afghan oil to carry out attacks in its neighbouring country.

Earlier in November, two civilians were killed while 10, including three soldiers, sustained injuries after an Afghan suicide bomber attacked a security forces convoy, according to Geo News.

Moreover, Pakistan continues to deport illegal Afghan citizens from the country citing a rise in terror attacks in the country.

US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Julieta Valls Noyes is set to visit Pakistan from December 4 to 6, according to an official statement.

According to the US State Department, Noyes will meet with senior government officials, as well as non-governmental and international organisation partners.

During her visit, Noyes will discuss shared efforts to protect vulnerable individuals and accelerate the safe, efficient relocation and resettlement of Afghan refugees in the US immigration pipeline.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs spokesperson Baloch said that US Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West will be visiting the country from December 7 to 9 while US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Pakistan Elizabeth Horst will pay a visit from December 9 to 12, reported Geo News.

“These visits are a part of the ongoing negotiations with the US on several issues, including the situation in Afghanistan,” Baloch said, stressing that the discussions will not be limited to the concerns of Afghanistan. (ANI)

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UK operation underway to relocate Afghans from Pak

Several have now been there for a number of weeks. Other bases across the UK have also taken in Afghans on the scheme…reports Asian Lite News

The UK has begun a mission to bring thousands of Afghans who worked with British forces to Britain from Pakistan.

Armed Forces Minister James Heappey told The Independent that the UK owed the 1,500 Afghans already relocated as part of the mission “an enormous debt,” and that it was “great” to have brought them to the country “at last.”

Operation Lazurite began in early October when the government decided to relocate all Afghans in Pakistan eligible to come to the UK, after The Independent found 3,000 such people stranded in hotels in Islamabad at British taxpayers’ expense.

This happened after the UK stopped funding hotels in Britain for Afghans coming to Britain in November 2022, and instead required them to find somewhere in the country to live themselves before they could be relocated.

On Sept. 26, then-Foreign Secretary James Cleverly laid the ground for the start of the operation after meeting Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-Ul-Haq Kakar in London, during which he praised “Pakistan’s support in hosting and facilitating (the) exit of Afghan nationals.”

Around 1,300 Afghans eligible to come to the UK remain in Islamabad, and around 2,700 more remain trapped in Afghanistan or are staying in other parts of Pakistan. The British Ministry of Defence plans to conclude the operation by the end of 2023.

Heappey told The Independent that the UK “know(s) who worked for us, therefore we know who is eligible. There are very, very few eligibility decisions left really to be taken. We know who we’ve got to bring out, both from Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

He added: “We are working at the best speed we can to get people here. We are really grateful to councils and communities across the country who are assisting us in that and to the Pakistan government for their continued support. We owe these people an enormous debt. They are not here illegally, quite the reverse. They are here because they did great work for and with the British Armed Forces during their time in Afghanistan. It’s great at last to be able to welcome them to their new permanent homes in the UK.”

So far, 1,100 of the Afghans relocated to the UK are at the Garats Hay army base near Loughborough, which is only intended to house people for a few days.

Several have now been there for a number of weeks. Other bases across the UK have also taken in Afghans on the scheme.

Around 700 houses have been earmarked for longer-term settlement, with 500 of those to be guaranteed for families for up to three years. The MoD is also working with local councils and private landlords.

Heappey said: “The properties offered are taken from stock that is not currently being used by service families, to avoid impact on our (MoD) people. Where there is not suitable service family accommodation to fit the needs of ARAP (Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy) families, alternative accommodation will be procured.”

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Protesters Outside UN HQ Decry Inhuman Treatment of Afghan Refugees

Protesters emphasized that Pakistani authorities demolished Afghan private and commercial properties, even when residents possessed valid registration cards and were legally residing in the country….reports Asian Lite News

Activists of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) in Europe staged a protest in front of the United Nations office in Geneva to denounce the crackdown and forced deportation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

PTM activist Fazal-Ur-Rehman Afridi said on Wednesday that the eviction is against international laws and must be stopped immediately as Pakistani law enforcement agencies have unleashed a ‘reign of terror’ against the refugees. He blamed them for harassing, keeping the refugees in arbitrary detention and also torturing them.

The protesters highlighted that Pakistani authorities also demolished several Afghan private and commercial properties, despite the fact that the majority of these people had proof of registration cards and were residing legally. Those who could not pay bribes to the local police were later deported, putting their lives in danger as Afghanistan itself is facing a humanitarian crisis.

The activists also noted that Noor Ullah Tareen, the coordinator of PTM Karachi, who is a strong voice for Afghan refugees, was also arbitrarily arrested on October 4 by the personnel of Secret Services and police without any warrant.

Meanwhile, Mushtaq, PTM Co-Ordinator of Peshawar, and other PTM activists, including Aftab Shinwari, Bilal Orakzai and Hayat Roghani, were arrested in Peshawar while on their way to a proposed seminar on Afghan refugees at the Peshawar Press Club on October 16.

Pakistan has so far not entertained calls by international organisations and refugee agencies to reconsider the move, saying Afghans have been involved in terror attacks and in crimes that undermine security.

The protesters in Geneva requested the international community to intervene and urged the European Union to reconsider the GSP status of Pakistan, which is coming to an end in December 2023, over the gross human rights violations. (ANI)

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Iran to Deport Afghan Immigrants Without Permits

As per Iranian media reports, Wahidi said that there are currently 5 million Afghan refugees living in Iran….reports Asian Lite News

Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Wahidi has said the country will deport Afghan immigrants who lack permits, TOLO News reported.

TOLO News is an Afghan news channel broadcasting from Kabul.

The Minister of Interior of Iran asked the Islamic Emirate to provide conditions for the return of Afghan immigrants, and Afghan immigrants who do not have legal documents for residence will be deported, TOLO News reported.

As per Iranian media reports, Wahidi said that there are currently 5 million Afghan refugees living in Iran.

Wahidi said: “Based on our figures, there are currently around five million people. There are two parts that have been fully explained before, a part of them do not have permits which should be deported”, as per TOLO News.

Meanwhile, the Taliban-appointed second Deputy Prime Minister of Afghanistan Abdul Salam Hanafi asked the citizens of the country and aid institutions to help the immigrants who have returned to the country.

According to Hanafi, so far more than 400,000 Afghan immigrants have returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan.

“The immigrants who were forcibly expelled from our neighbouring countries against all national and international norms, have returned to their homeland, and the Islamic Emirate has provided them services with all the possible means it had,” Hanafi said, according to TOLO News.

Some refugee rights activists expressed concerns regarding the situation of Afghan immigrants in Iran.

Immigrants’ rights activist Mohammad Khan Talibi said: “The Afghan immigrants in Iran are facing challenges due to not having legal living permits.” (ANI)

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