At least 90,000 Afghan nationals have been reportedly deported by Iran back to Afghanistan since March 2023, the official IRNA website said on Saturday.
The Afghan migrants were returned through the Islam Qala-Dogharoun border located between Herat and Mashhad, according to Hossein Sharafati Rad, Director General of Alien and Foreign Immigrant Affairs in Khorasan Razavi.
The deportations included those who voluntarily returned, as well as those held by Iranian authorities across the country, including Tehran, who were then transferred to a detention centre in the border city of Mashhad before being deported to Afghanistan.
The scale of deportation highlights the plight of Afghan refugees seeking a better life in neighboring Iran, where they often face great difficulties.
Many are met with abuse, harassment and hostility. In April last year, a shocking video emerged online where an Afghan refugee was made to utter profanities about Afghanistan while kissing his feet and crying.
Iranian border guards have also been repeatedly accused of forcibly deporting Afghans, as well as beating and harassing those living in refugee camps along the border.
Iran is home to one of the largest Afghan diasporas, numbering over three million.
Many, despite being Iran-born, are not permanent residents of the country, according to UNHCR. Afghan nationals are provided with a time-restricted legal status by the Iranian Bureau of Alien and Foreign Immigrant Affairs.
Over two million of them live in Iran without documentation, exposing them to further abuse and mistreatment.
Moreover, children born to mixed Iranian-Afghan couples are also not entitled to Iranian citizenship.
The majority of Afghan residents of Iran live in Mashhad, Tehran and Khorasan, as well in locations in and around the border.