COVID-19 and the Return of Afghan Refugees; Have the Infected Returnees Been Identified?

COVID-19 and the Return of Afghan Refugees; Have the Infected Returnees Been Identified?

12 Apr 2020

The Afghan embassy in Pakistan Announced in a statement on Friday night that 2 Afghan migrants had died in Peshawar and Pakistan Mardan were died of the coronavirus.

Two other migrants in Pakistan are still infected with the coronavirus and taken to hospital for treatment, the statement said.

Tens of thousands of people have arrived Afghanistan from Pakistan after the limited opening of the Torkham and Spin Boldak borders to the Afghan citizens stranded in Pakistan.

Over 7,000 Missed Corona Test

In the last three days of last week, a total of 28,360 people have entered the country through joint crossings with Pakistan.

The number of people returned on Monday revealed 9,825, also 9,856 on Tuesday and 17,298 on Wednesday.

Earlier, Pakistan announced that it would reopen its borders three times a week due to the return of Afghan citizens stranded in the country, which began on April 10 at the Torkham and Chaman border crossings.

Qari Najibullah Qayyumi, head of the Nangarhar Immigrants and Returnees Department, told Reporterly:  “All the returnees have been tested for coronavirus over the past three days.”

Abdul Basit Ansari, a spokesman for the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations, said: “People who have returned from Pakistan during this period have all had passports, except some of them and entered the country legally, and their number has risen to 15,800.

Nangarhar border officials say none of the returnees were suspected of having coronavirus and that it would not be possible for anyone to enter the country without a corona scan or test if citizens return to the country.

Western Borders

Meanwhile, Mr. Ansari, a spokesman for the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations, said that “a large number of migrants have entered the country since the first of last month, but with the efforts of the Ministry of Immigration in cooperation with the Afghan Embassy in Iran.

“The Iranian government has pledged to treat all our compatriots without charges. Therefore, the number of returnees from this country has decreased and its statistics have decreased compared to before.”

Previously, since the widespread outbreak of the coronavirus in Iran, the daily number of Afghan refugees returning from Herat and Nimroz has risen to about 10,000 to 12,000 a day, but now stands at nearly 3,000 a day.

Mr. Ansari added: “We have more than 200,000 returnees at this time. At the moment, we are mostly witnessing the return of migrants from the Islam Qala border of Herat province, and we can say that half of them enter Afghanistan from the Nimroz border.”  “

Ahmad Javid Nadem, head of the Herat Immigrants and Returnees Department, told Reporterly: “From the first day of last month, 131,491 people have entered the country voluntarily through the Islam Qala border.”

Though Mr. Nadem points out the lack of facilities at the borders, he cited that all people are screened at the border and entered the country.

Health teams in the province are facing shortage of facilities in the border areas, people who enter the country are only checked and asked questions, and then they enter the country.

Mohammad Rafiq Sherzai, spokesman for the Herat Public Health Department, told Reporterly: “The exact figure of immigrants infected with the coronavirus is unknown at this time but there are some infected among the returnees who have come from Iran.”

Zackaria Noori contributed reporting.

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