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Iran gets sanctions instead of financial support for hosting Afghan refugees, MEP laments

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Afghan refugees at the border between Afghanistan and Iran (Via AFP)

Iran gets sanctions instead of receiving financial support for hosting millions of Afghan migrants and refugees, amidst a new wave of Afghan civilians fleeing from the crisis-wracked country, a member of the European Parliament laments.

“Iran is host to some 3.6 million #Afghan Refugees, and unlike Turkey, doesn’t get billions from the #EU for minding them,” Mick Wallace, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from South Ireland, wrote in a tweet on Tuesday.

“Another 300,000 have entered since Taliban took over #Afghanistan – instead of financial support, #Iran gets Sanctions,” Wallace added, expressing doubt about whether the EU cares about Afghan refugees.

Afghanistan is facing what UN agencies have described as “one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters” since the collapse of Kabul in mid-August, which came after the United States’ disastrous withdrawal from the country.

The US military withdrew its forces from Afghanistan 20 years after they invaded the country to topple the Taliban, in a war that killed, according to one estimate, between 897,000 and 929,000 people.

Since the Taliban regained power in Afghanistan, the US and its allies have imposed sanctions on the Central Asian country and deprived Afghans of any aid and assistance on the pretext of pressuring the Taliban.

However, human rights activists maintain that economic sanctions generally do not punish the rulers, but rather, hurt the population, lead to mass starvation, and fuel extremism in the targeted country.

Wallace’s Tuesday remarks were a reply to an earlier tweet by Iran’s EU mission, which had urged the international community to shoulder responsibility for the Afghan people’s situation.

“Winter is coming and Afghan refugee crisis is intensifying, putting the neighboring countries under increasing pressure,” the Iranian mission wrote.

“Preventing a humanitarian disaster in #Afghanistan and among the #refugee population is a shared global responsibility. Iran needs concrete int'l support,” it added.

As a country that has been targeted with unprecedented sanctions imposed by the United States, Iran has sent 13 shipments of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, welcomed Afghan refugees, and tried to engage to some extent with the Taliban to prevent the collapse of Afghanistan’s economy, all the while repeatedly calling on the militant group to help establish an inclusive government in the eastern neighboring country.

Earlier this month, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) Secretary General Jan Egeland said Iran “cannot be expected to host so many Afghans with so little support from the international community.”

“There must be an immediate scale-up of aid both inside Afghanistan and in neighboring countries like Iran, before the deadly winter cold,” Egeland said, lauding Iran for welcoming and hosting millions of displaced Afghans during the past four decades.

On Monday, a top Red Cross official warned that economic sanctions against Afghanistan are depriving millions across the crisis-wracked country of the basics they need to survive.

The economic sanctions “meant to punish those in power in Kabul are instead freezing millions of people across Afghanistan out of the basics they need to survive,” Dominik Stillhart, operations director at the International Committee of the Red Cross, said in a statement on Monday.

“It’s so infuriating because this suffering is man-made,” he added.

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