Harirud incident caused by illegal traffic, Foreign Ministry official says

June 7, 2020 - 18:54

TEHRAN – Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for International and Legal Affairs Mohsen Baharvand has blamed illegal traffic of Afghan migrants for the human tragedy in Harirud.

“Our investigation does not show that incident in Harirud was caused by interference of the Iranian border guards. However, we considered evidence of the Afghan side important and gave it to the related bodies,” Baharvand told IRNA in an interview published on Sunday.

He said, “Due to Afghan armed forces’ fight against terrorism, Afghanistan has dismantled its border stations and this has caused lack of control over borders by Afghanistan. This issue has led to problems caused by human traffickers.”

Elsewhere, Baharvand said that Iran and Afghanistan will form a joint border committee.

The deputy foreign minister for international and legal affairs said on May 27 that Iran and Afghanistan are in agreement on the incident which led to the tragic deaths of a number of Afghan migrants in border area.

Baharvand told IRNA that there is no different views as reported by certain foreign media outlets.

Iranian diplomats and border guards have carried out investigations which show the Iranian guards were not involved in the incident, he noted.

Iranian and Afghan political delegations held their last round of talks in Kabul on May 26 on the incident. It was the second time that Iranian and Afghan officials met on the issue.

According to ISNA, the talks were inconclusive and the delegations plan to continue the talks.

Afghan media outlets have reported that about 50 Afghan migrants crossing into Iran illegally had been beaten and thrown into a river. Iranian political and border officials have refuted the claim, saying the incident happened on the Afghan side of the border.

According to some reports, 18 of the migrants, including a 12-year old boy, were drowned in the Harirud River.

Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry announced on May 9 that an inquiry had been launched into the tragedy.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held a phone conversation with acting Afghan foreign minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar on May 10 discussing the deaths of Afghan migrants.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry has rejected as a “bitter joke” a claim by the United States that Iranian guards were involved in the deaths of Afghan migrants.

“Iran has strong ties with Afghanistan & leads the way to help Afghan leaders for inclusive Gvt. What happened to Afghan nationals in Herat is tragic & unrelated to Iran, but U.S. regime’s allegation against Iran is a ‘bitter joke’,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement published via Twitter on May 5.

“The (US) regime is a war criminal in Afghanistan & state sponsor of terrorism across the world,” the statement added.

According to Tasnim, Iran spends eight billion dollars on Afghan migrants every year in various sectors.

Based on the latest official figures, 951,142 Afghan refugees reside in Iran. In addition to the refugees, there are around 2.5 million Afghan nationals living in Iran, inclusive of passport holders and undocumented Afghans.

The UN refugee agency has, on numerous occasions, praised Iran for hosting Afghan refugees for more than four decades.