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Afghanistan: Border Monitoring update - COVID-19 Response (17 - 30 May 2020)

Countries: Afghanistan, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Pakistan Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Since 01 January, UNHCR assisted the return of 320 Afghan refugees from Iran (270), Pakistan (16) and other countries (34) under its facilitated voluntary repatriation programme. UNHCR, as of 04 March 2020, temporarily suspended the voluntary return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan, Iran and other countries as a precautionary measure linked to COVID-19. Upon the request of the Islamic Republic of Iran s Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants Affairs, UNHCR Iran resumed voluntary repatriation from Iran as of 30 April. According to MoRR/IOM, during the weeks of 17 23 and 24 - 30 May, the total number of undocumented returnees from Iran was 8,167 and 4,684 respectively and since 01 January, the total number of undocumented returnees is 300,512 individuals, including 298,679 from Iran and 1,833 from Pakistan. On 01 May 2020, the Government of Pakistan announced that Torkham and Spin Boldak crossing points will open five days a week (Monday Friday) for commercial purposes. Pedestrian movement of stranded Afghans and Pakistanis is officially permitted once per week (Saturday), though in practice pedestrian traffic has been allowed more frequently. On 21 23 and 30 May, 15,609 stranded Afghans crossed through Torkham into Afghanistan, while 599 Pakistanis returned to Pakistan. Spin Boldak crossing point has remained closed since 16 May for pedestrian movement of stranded Afghans and Pakistanis. Due to Eid holidays (24-26 May), this update covers the past two weeks (17-30 May 2020). BORDER MONITORING In line with UNHCR s protection monitoring objectives, and in the context of increased incidence of COVID-19 across the territory of Afghanistan, UNHCR made the decision to expand its protection and return monitoring activities to the official entry points with Iran (Islam Qala and Zaranj/Milak crossing points) and with Pakistan (Spin Boldak and Torkham), when open for pedestrian movements. Through maintaining a consistent presence at these zero points, UNHCR aims to ensure efficient, timely and systematic gathering of protection information from Afghan returnees.


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