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Afghan refugees suspected of carrying the Covid-19 killed on the Iranian border

As the pandemic hits Iran hard, tens of thousands of migrants return to Afghanistan. But they are accused of bringing the coronavirus back with them, and for some, the return is fatal.

It’s not just the Taliban that the Afghan people are afraid of these days. The insurgent movement has killed 387 civilians and injured 590 others in 4,500 attacks since the February 29 peace agreement with the United States, a landmark event that coincided with the arrival of the coronavirus in the country. But the Afghans who left to look for work in Iran also fear for their lives: they are shot at while trying to cross the border to return home.

Saturday May 2, “57 people trying to return to Afghanistan were reportedly arrested by Iranian soldiers and 23 reportedly killed after being beaten and thrown into the Harirod River ” which draws the northern part of the border between the two countries, indicates theAfghanistan Times. Witnesses say the victims were from the northwestern provinces of Faryab and Herat, the city where the first Afghan case of Covid-19 was spotted in early March.

A dangerous return to the country

When the pandemic spread to several cities in Iran, “a number of Afghan refugees who lived there have started to return ”, at the risk of spreading the contagion, explains the Kabul Times. Afghan and Iranian leaders then made an agreement that Afghan workers remain confined to Iran and those who may be contaminated hospitalized there, so that since then, “the flow of refugees has decreased by 83% ”.

It is those who ignore this agreement, knowingly or without having been informed of its existence, who are arrested today. According to the Afghan refugee ministry, “240,000 Afghans have voluntarily returned from Iran since early March ”. The health ministry says that “most” of them were contaminated in the neighboring country, but it is not known how specifically were carriers of the coronavirus or patients with Covid-19 on their return. “About 50 refugees are said to have died, most of them in the Iranian city of Qom, while several hundred others are said to have been contaminated ”, reports it Kabul Times.

Afghan authorities have opened an investigation into the border case, saying that “several lifeless bodies were recovered from the river and transferred to Herat hospital ”, let the channel know 1tvnews. In the morning of Sunday, May 3, the count of the American university Johns Hopkins reported 2,469 coronavirus contaminations and 72 deaths of the Covid-19 in Afghanistan, country of 37 million inhabitants.

Guillaume Delacroix

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