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Afghans flock to Iranian border, but only a few can cross

The number of people attempting the crossing this week has gone up to between 3,000 and 4,000 a day (File)

Zaranj, Afghanistan:

An official said the number of Afghans attempting to cross the border into Iran has increased since the Taliban came to power nearly two months ago, but few manage to do so.

Before the Taliban came to power on 15 August, about 1,000 to 2,000 people crossed Iran each month through the Zaranj border station in the southwestern province of Nimroj.

But Mohamed Hashem Hanzaleh, the border commander in Nimroz province, told AFP this week that the number of people trying to cross has risen to between 3,000 and 4,000 a day.

The rise comes as a devastating economic and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, with the United Nations warning that a third of the population faces the threat of famine.

But Hanzaleh said very few people had the necessary papers to cross.

Businessmen and people holding residence visas as well as those holding visas to seek medical treatment “are not stopped by Iranian forces,” he said, adding that around 5-600 people were allowed in each day.

For those trying to cross without whose papers, the experience can be harrowing.

The Hayatullah, wearing a towel-like turban and a gray beard, showed his wounded hand, with blood oozing from the bandage.

“Iranian soldiers took our money. They hit our hands, they tore our hands,” he said.

Mohammad Naseem said that he was foiled thrice after trying to cross the border wall.

Two nights earlier, he said Iranian border guards opened fire and killed two people trying to cross, including a friend of his.

This did not prevent him from returning the next night, only to find himself “captured” and “beaten”, as the guards asked why he was trying to cross without documents.

He said he had replied: “If you look at the poverty, hunger and misery of our country, you will go to the other side of the border as well.”

“We don’t have any other option.”

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NB staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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