Iranian government expels tens of thousands of Afghan refugees

Afghan refugee family walk at a refugee camp on the outskirts of Islamabad. (AFP)
Updated 12 June 2019

Iranian government expels tens of thousands of Afghan refugees

  • Others leaving voluntarily due to poor economy of sanctions-hit country
  • The Afghan government ‘lacks the means to find jobs or provide any financial support for the returnees’

KABUL: Tehran has expelled tens of thousands of Afghan refugees so far this year, while roughly the same number have returned voluntarily due to US sanctions against Iran, Afghan officials said on Monday.

Some 181,000 refugees have been expelled or have left willingly, said Reza Baher, spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations.

“Some of those deported are trying to go back to Iran,” he told Arab News. “Many of those who’ve been deported are without documents, barring them from justifying their stay there.”

Last year, some 750,000 Afghans, many without travel documents, left Iran willingly or unwillingly, he said.

Some 2.4 million Afghans live in Iran, many holding either a visa or a permit to stay, according to the ministry.

Baher said the devaluation of Iran’s currency and the poor state of its economy due to US sanctions have led Afghans to return home voluntarily.

The International Organization for Migration said it has provided assistance to hundreds of returnees.

“As Afghans primarily work in the informal economy in Iran, the demand for this type of work is drastically reduced,” it added in a statement.

Analyst Taj Mohammad Ahmadzada told Arab News that the Afghan government “lacks the means to find jobs or provide any financial support for the returnees.”

He said: “We have an estimated 1.4 million people internally displaced by war and natural disasters, who live in miserable conditions. The return of tens of thousands from outside adds to the problems across the country.”

Wahidullah Ghazikhail who runs a think tank, told Arab News that with the poverty rate in Afghanistan already at “70 percent,” the influx of returnees will “create a crisis.”

“They need work, so they’re obliged to join insurgency groups to feed their children,” he said.


Scientists discover big storms can create ‘stormquakes’

Updated 17 October 2019

Scientists discover big storms can create ‘stormquakes’

  • Shaking of sea floor during hurricanes and nor’easters can rumble like a magnitude 3.5 earthquake and can last for days
  • But a stormquake is more an oddity than something that can hurt you, says seismologist
WASHINGTON: Scientists have discovered a mash-up of two feared disasters — hurricanes and earthquakes — and they’re calling them “stormquakes.”
The shaking of the sea floor during hurricanes and nor’easters can rumble like a magnitude 3.5 earthquake and can last for days, according to a study in this week’s journal Geophysical Research Letters. The quakes are fairly common, but they weren’t noticed before because they were considered seismic background noise.
A stormquake is more an oddity than something that can hurt you, because no one is standing on the sea floor during a hurricane, said Wenyuan Fan, a Florida State University seismologist who was the study’s lead author.
The combination of two frightening natural phenomena might bring to mind “Sharknado ,” but stormquakes are real and not dangerous.
“This is the last thing you need to worry about,” Fan told The Associated Press.
Storms trigger giant waves in the sea, which cause another type of wave. These secondary waves then interact with the seafloor — but only in certain places — and that causes the shaking, Fan said. It only happens in places where there’s a large continental shelf and shallow flat land.
Fan’s team found 14,077 stormquakes between September 2006 and February 2015 in the Gulf of Mexico and off Florida, New England, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Labrador and British Columbia. A special type of military sensor is needed to spot them, Fan said.
Hurricane Ike in 2008 and Hurricane Irene in 2011 set off lots of stormquakes, the study said.
The shaking is a type that creates a wave that seismologists don’t normally look for when monitoring earthquakes, so that’s why these have gone unnoticed until now, Fan said.
Ocean-generated seismic waves show up on US Geological Survey instruments, “but in our mission of looking for earthquakes these waves are considered background noise,” USGS seismologist Paul Earle said.pport from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.