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More than 100,000 Afghans sent home from Iran

TEHRAN, Sept 12 (Reuters) - More than 100,000 Afghan refugees have been sent home from Iran since April, a statement issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Tuesday.

The returnees have received help from the UNHCR and other international organisations under a joint programme with the Iranian government since April 8, the UNHCR statement said.

Iran is host to more than 1.4 million Afghans, most of whom are residing illegally.

Iranians blame the refugees for increasing crime and unemployment which now stands officially at 17 percent.

Many are also suspicious of the repatriation plans, alleging that the refugees take the money and goods offered under the joint plan to family members in Afghanistan and then cross the porous borders back into Iran.

Diplomatic sources in Tehran say the UNHCR has been forced to cut the repatriation grants to $20, from $40, to combat suspected fraud.

Sadako Ogata, the High Commissioner for Refugees is due to tour Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan from September 14 to 17.


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