Herat’s refugees and repatriation directorate said on Tuesday that the number of Afghan refugees repatriated by Iran has doubled over the last two weeks and hundreds of thousands of refugees are crossing the border at Islam Qala every day.
According to the local officials, the people are leaving Iran because of the spread of the coronavirus.
“When the coronavirus outbreak increased in Iran, more people started coming to Afghanistan. At least 2,000 people come to Afghanistan every day,” said Ahmad Jawed Nadam, head of the refugees and repatriation directorate in Herat province.
Meanwhile, Nimroz and Farah borders have also witnessed thousands of Afghans returning from Iran.
“We have 1,700 or 1,800 persons, repatriates, including children and families,” said Mohammad Salim Qazi Khal, head of the refugees and repatriation directorate in Nimroz province.
“We have 423 persons who repatriated,” said Rahimuddin Regiwal, head of refugees and repatriation directorate in Farah.
Officials of public health directorate and provincial council members of Herat warned that the open border will harm Afghanistan.
“Many people have been infected and killed by the virus in Iran. Afghans are also living in Iran and working. We are concerned about the open borders with Iran,” said Mohammad Asif Kabir, deputy head of Herat’s public health directorate.
“If we don’t have the necessary equipment, without any doubt the virus will come to Afghanistan,” said Kamran Alizai, head of Herat’s provincial council.
Jilani Farhad, spokesman for the Herat governor, said that they have taken measures to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.
According to Farhad, blocking borders with Iran can only be done by the authority of the central government.
“We have taken serious measures at the Islam Qala border. Our efforts to prevent the spread of the virus in Afghanistan are focussed especially in Herat,” said Farhad.
Based on the statistics of Herat’s public health directorate, out of 60 total suspected cases of the coronavirus, one case has tested positive, 35 cases have tested negative, and the results of the remaining cases are still pending.
This comes as Iran’s death toll from the new coronavirus has reached 54, a Health Ministry spokesman told Iranian state TV, adding that the number of people infected had reached 978.
Iran has had the highest number of deaths from the coronavirus outside of China, where the outbreak originated, and several countries in the region have reported infections among people who traveled to the Islamic Republic.