Iran becomes a refuge for over a million Afghans fleeing economic collapsetext_fields
From October 2021 through the end of January 2022, over a million Afghans have fled to Iran as the economy collapsed in the war-torn nation, The New York Times reported citing researchers.
According to the report, aid organizations estimate that around 4,000 to 5,000 people cross into Iran each day.
Although the primary motive for the flight is the immediate economic hardship, the possibility of long-term Taliban rule with its restrictions on women and fears of retribution has only heightened their desperation.
"There's an exponential increase in the number of people departing Afghanistan through this route, particularly given how challenging this journey is in the winter months," said David Mansfield, a researcher tracking Afghan migration.
According to his estimations, up to four times as many Afghans left Afghanistan for Pakistan and then Iran each day in January compared to the same period the previous year, said the report.
The migration has sparked fears across the region and in Europe, where lawmakers fear a repetition of the 2015 migrant crisis, which saw over a million people, mostly Syrians, seek refuge in Europe, sparking a populist reaction.
Many fear that in spring as weather warms making the snow-covered routes easier to travel, a flock of Afghans may flood the European Union's borders.
In last fall, the European Union, determined to keep migrants in the region, donated over $1 billion in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and neighbouring nations hosting Afghan refugees, reported the New York Times.
"We need new agreements and commitments in place to be able to assist and help an extremely vulnerable civil population," Jonas Gahr Store, the Norwegian Prime Minister, said in a statement at the UN Security Council's meeting on Afghanistan last month.
"We must do what we can to avoid another migration crisis and another source of instability in the region and beyond."
More than half of the population is facing "extreme levels" of hunger, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said last month. "For Afghans, daily life has become a frozen hell," he added.
Now with no imminent respite in sight, hundreds of thousands of people have fled to neighboring countries.
Since the United States withdrew forces and the Taliban took power, Afghanistan has been engulfed in an economic crisis that has driven millions of people who were already living on the brink of starvation over the edge.
According to the report, incomes have vanished sprawling life-threatening hunger and desperately needed help has been stymied by Western sanctions against Taliban officials.