Afghanistan urges Iran to delay expulsion of refugees

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KABUL, Oct 11 (Reuters) Afghanistan's parliament has appealed to Iran to delay the deportation of thousands of Afghans until the end of winter, saying the country didn't have the resources to look after them during the harsh season.

Iran has already sent back some 260,000 Afghans who it regards as illegal migrants since April, and plans to deport another 200,000, despite calls by Afghanistan to stem the tide.

The Afghan senate, in an open letter carried by state media on Thursday, urged Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to intervene and stop the deportations until the end of the harsh winter.

Some 1.8 million Afghans live in Iran.

After neighbouring Pakistan, Iran accounts for the largest number of Afghans who have left their homeland during three decades of conflict. Many work in the construction sector or as domestic help.

But Iran says about half of them have illegally entered the country and will be sent back. The Afghan government, struggling to contain a Taliban insurgency, has repeatedly called on Tehran to suspend repatriations because it lacks the resources to resettle them.

The United Nations says it will take a long time for the war-ravaged country to sustain the inflow of refugees.


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