The Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation of Afghanistan said that high level quadrilateral meetings will be held next month to discuss the issues and the challenges that the Afghan refugees are facing the neighboring countries of Iran and Afghanistan. This comes soon after the capital city and Herat witnessed protest outside the Iranian embassy and consulate over an alleged bad treatment maintained by Iran with the Afghan refugees. The Ministry told that the meetings will involve officials from Kabul, Tehran, Islamabad, and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The quadrilateral meetings will be followed by three party meetings between Afghanistan, Iran, and the UN’s refugee body.
Since the issue has specifically erupted between Iran and Afghanistan, therefore tripartite meetings will also take place. The issue made it to news when protests were staged against an ill treatment of Afghan refugees at the hands of the Iran’s Border Guard. Clips were widely circulating on social media. However, their authenticity could not be established. The Afghan people hosted protest outside Iran’s embassy in Kabul and consulate in Herat, over which the Afghan envoy in Iran was also summoned and reassurance demanded that the safety of Iran’s diplomatic mission will be ensured. All consultative services of the embassy and consulate in Afghanistan were also suspended in the wake of the protests.
“The aim of the meeting is to address the problems of the Afghan refugees in the neighboring countries and to reach a procedure for the Afghans who are living there without any registration,” Tolo News reported the spokesman for the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation saying. Living unregistered is causing problems not only for the refugees but also the concerned authorities in the neighboring countries. According to the figures of October 2020, 780, 000 Afghan refugees are living in Iran, while Norwegian Refugee Council reports that around 3.6 million Afghans are living in Iran but only 780,000 are recognized as refugees. On the other hand, Pakistan hosts 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees. Moreover, the UNHCR also reported 300,000 Afghans fleeing to Pakistan in the wake of the takeover in August last year.
Given the number of unregistered refugees, it becomes clear why this quadrilateral meeting is important and it may be a breakthrough for the betterment of the Afghan refugees. Earlier, both Iran and Afghanistan expressed sentiments of solidarity and brotherhood, calling the social media clips of beating of Afghan refugees as third parties trying to worsen ties between the two sides. Iran’s Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson mentioned earlier that both sides need to be vigilant of circulation of misleading news on social media.