Iran sactions push Afghan refugees into poverty

2013-12-02 17:00
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP) (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Tehran - Afghans refugees living in Iran are being plunged deeper into poverty as sanctions slapped on Tehran over its disputed nuclear drive sap the economy, a refugee agency has warned.

"Sanctions on Iran have been bad news for both Afghan refugees and for humanitarian operations," Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), told AFP during a visit to Tehran this week.

Some five million Afghans driven by war, oppression and poverty have crossed the border into Iran and Pakistan in the past three decades, seeking better lives and jobs.

Almost a million Afghans also are illegal immigrants in Iran, according to police figures published on Monday.

While some 840 000 Afghans have been able to register as refugees in Iran, many others have lived among Iranians with relative ease for many years, and those permitted to work have been able to seize opportunities in the labour sector.

But as Iran faces its own economic problems, exacerbated by sanctions targeting its vital petrodollar and access to the global banking system, those opportunities have progressively dried up.

"The Afghans allowed to work had been able to help the Iranian economy and also take care of themselves," Egeland said. "But there is now exploding unemployment among Afghans."

Daily struggle

Sanctions are designed to coerce Tehran into rolling back its nuclear drive, which Western powers and Israel suspect mask military objectives. Iran says its work is peaceful and has defiantly expanded its activities.

But its economy has gone drastically downhill in the past two years, struggling with rampant inflation of nearly 40%, a massive depreciation of the national currency, and a double-digit unemployment rate, according to official figures.

The situation has also led to "increased tension between Iranian local communities and Afghans who have lived well together for years," Egeland said, pointing to rising calls by Iranians for the refugees to return to Afghanistan.

Afghanistan, whose weak economy is mostly supported by foreign aid is unprepared to host a large return of refugees, the NRC chief said, adding that the situation would become even worse once Nato forces depart in 2014.

"We have seen refugees leaving bad conditions here to even worse conditions there," he said.

His organisation, he added, had been affected by punitive measures overseen by the Office of foreign assets control, a department in the US Treasury, that limit the amount of humanitarian aid that can be transferred into Iran.

Lifting of sanctions

"We can transfer a total of $500 000 in a year, this amount is nothing for us," said Egeland, whose organisation raises around $2m in funds annually.

The NRC therefore resorts to "cumbersome and costly" alternatives.

Egeland criticised the unintended consequences of the sanctions regime in complicating efforts to provide shelter, food security, information and legal assistance, water and sanitation, and education to the refugees, particularly those living in "very poor conditions and in mud huts".

"We live in 2013; there should be a possibility to make a rational and reasonable exemptions to such a sanctions regime," he said.

Iran and world powers clinched a long-elusive nuclear deal last week, which could lead to the lifting of sanctions in the coming years should further negotiations over a final agreement proceed smoothly.

Egeland expressed hope that the deal could lead to exemptions to enable unlimited transfer of aid for humanitarian operations in Iran.

He also called for better co-operation from the government of President Hassan Rouhani, who took office in August.

"We need unhindered access to refugee sites that have so far been denied for various reasons," he said.

Read more on:    nato  |  hassan rouhani  |  afghanistan  |  iran  |  iran nuclear programme
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

DA wants to empower fishing communities - Zille

DA leader Helen Zille says the party has a plan for harbours and small-scale fishing communities.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy Tab P7500 10.1" Tablet With WiFi & 3G

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 gives you a better experience for...

From R4999.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. ...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.