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Iran-Afghanistan: returns top 5,000

Briefing notes

Iran-Afghanistan: returns top 5,000

25 April 2000

A total of 5,592 Afghan refugees have returned home since the start of the voluntary repatriation programme for Afghan refugees from Iran on 9 April.

This morning, 980 returnees in 28 buses and 10 trucks from Tehran (585 refugees) and Mashad (395) crossed into Afghanistan at the Islam Qala border point. Like previous occasions, today's returnees were predominantly young men. After registration by the Afghan authorities, the returnees and their belongings were to transfer to Afghan trucks for the onward journey to the western city of Herat.

Since 19 April, 3 screening teams composed of representatives of UNHCR and the Iranian Government have been operational in Mashad. They have been conducting interviews of Afghans applying for refugee status in Iran. In the first three days, 51 claims were processed, and 16 cases have been immediately recognized as being in need of protection. So far, 559 applications have been filled and interviews are scheduled until 14 May. Cases rejected will be allowed to appeal once if they can submit new information.

Because of the limited reception and transport capacity in Afghanistan, a maximum of 1,000 people per day can be repatriated, 500 from Tehran, 300 from Mashhad and 200 from other locations.

In all, UNHCR and its partners have set a target of 100,000 returns each from Iran and Pakistan this year. In Pakistan, UNHCR has assisted the return of 11,750 Afghan refugees since January.