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Iran/Afghanistan: screening centres flooded

Briefing notes

Iran/Afghanistan: screening centres flooded

12 May 2000

Afghan refugees fearing a return to Afghanistan have flooded screening centres run jointly by UNHCR and the Iranian government. The screening centre in Teheran had to be temporarily shut on Wednesday after a huge crowd turned up to register, totally overwhelming the centre's small staff. The other screening centre in Mashad has been operating at full capacity. Interview appointments now stretch until October. Under an agreement between UNHCR and the Iranian government, people who fear a return to Afghanistan may come to the screening centres to make a case for remaining in Iran. Since the programme started on April 19, even larger numbers of Afghans have come to the screening centres, which have already registered nearly 10,000 people.

At the same time, more than 12,000 Afghans have agreed to go back to Afghanistan without screening. Iran hosts an estimated 1.4 million Afghans.