December 16, 2021
As many as 22 Afghan refugees have been killed in car accidents near the Iranian-Afghanistan border over the last week, sparking fresh alarm about the dangers illegal migrants face.
Eight Afghan nationals were killed and 14 injured in an accident involving two cars in Sistan and Baluchistan province on Tuesday, December 14. Mohammad Amirkhani, the deputy officer for rescue and relief at Kerman Red Crescent Society, also reported that at least 11 had been killed and several were injured in an early-morning accident involving a Peugeot 405 on the Fahraj-Zahedan highway in Sistan and Baluchistan.
According to Seyed Hossein Tabatabai Nadooshan from the Yazd Medical Center and Emergency Organization, six people were killed and five injured in a separate accident involving a car and a truck on the Yazd and Kharanagh ringway road. The Iranian driver of the car was among those killed.
Prior to the most recent news of fatalities, there had been reports of accidents involving vehicles that had illegally crossed the border, transporting refugees from both Afghanistan and Pakistan who were hoping to find work in Iran and Turkey.
Following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August, the Islamic Republic announced it had closed its borders to immigrants, prompting the expulsion of at least 3,000 Afghan immigrants seeking refuge in Iran after crossing the Zahak border in Sistan and Baluchistan.
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) stated that since the Taliban came to power, between 4,000 and 5,000 Afghan refugees and asylum seekers have fled over the border into Iran on a daily basis.
The council predicted that, as winter arrived, hundreds of thousands more refugees and asylum seekers would flee to Iran. It estimates that about 300,000 Afghans have crossed the border since the Taliban took over.
In October 2021, Mehdi Mahmoudi, Director General of Citizens’ Affairs for Iran’s Ministry of Interior, announced that Iran’s policy was to not accept new refugees due to increasingly difficult economic conditions.
Mahmoudi had said that there were currently more than 1,250,000 illegal citizens based in Iran.