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Interior Minister Says Tajikistan Unable To Host Many Afghan Refugees

The Afghan ambassador to Tajikistan, Mohammad Zahir Aghbar, meets with Afghan refugees in the Tajik border city of Khorugh in early July.
The Afghan ambassador to Tajikistan, Mohammad Zahir Aghbar, meets with Afghan refugees in the Tajik border city of Khorugh in early July.

Tajik Interior Minister Ramazon Rahimzoda says his country is unable to host many refugees from neighboring Afghanistan, as thousands look to flee after Taliban insurgents took control of the country.

Rahimzoda cited a lack of infrastructure to host Afghan refugees as the reason and called on international organizations, including the United Nations, to assist the Central Asian state to build such infrastructure.

He was speaking during a meeting with Mulugeta Zewdie, the country director for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, on September 1.

Rahimzoda noted that 80 Afghan families were currently in a neutral segment of the Tajik-Afghan border area and seeking to enter Tajikistan, fearing for their lives.

Some 5,000 Afghan government troops have already entered Tajikistan as they fled from Taliban advances in recent weeks. The troops were later sent back to Afghanistan.

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He also said his ministry was overwhelmed with work related to any possible influx of refugees, stressing that the ongoing instability and the growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan might cause a "flow of terrorists to other countries."

In the last 15 years, Tajikistan has accepted more than 3,000 families who left Afghanistan and allocated 70 hectares of land in the country's south for setting up a proper camp for refugees two decades ago.

"However, in 20 years no international organizations provided any practical assistance to create infrastructure to admit refugees and persons who seek asylum. Because of that, the Republic of Tajikistan does not have the capacity to accept a big number of refugees or asylum seekers," the ministry quoted Rahimzoda as saying.

In July, almost 350 ethnic Kyrgyz shepherds from Afghanistan with their families and some 4,000 livestock fled the country and entered Tajikistan. They were later sent back to their village in Afghanistan, even though the Kyrgyz authorities asked Dushanbe to secure their safe passage to Kyrgyzstan.

Last month, authorities in Uzbekistan said they had sent 150 Afghan refugees back to Afghanistan under an agreement with the Taliban and at the request of the refugees themselves.

In July, Tajikistan said it was ready to shelter up to 100,000 Afghan refugees but later backed away from that statement.

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