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Over 400,000 Afghans Returned Home From Iran, Pakistan, Says Migration Organization

Afghan refugees sit with their children after returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan in a camp on the outskirts of Kabul. (file photo)

A total of 403,338 people have returned to Afghanistan from neighboring Iran and Pakistan since the beginning of the year, the UN-affiliated International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a report released on October 31.

The report said that some 385,000 Afghans have been repatriated from Iran, with just over half of them being forced to leave under deportation orders.

The IOM estimates that 1.5 million to 2 million undocumented Afghans are currently living in Iran.

Many Afghans have settled in Iran mainly for economic purposes, but due to the dire economic situation in the Islamic republic, they have returned in large numbers, the Geneva-based IOM said.

The IOM also said that some 17,500 Afghans have returned from Pakistan since the start of the year. Pakistan hosts 1.3 million registered Afghan nationals, and more than 1 million Afghans who are unregistered, the IOM said.

High unemployment, a weak economy, and a precarious security situation in Afghanistan have driven the migration to neighboring countries and the rest of the world.

More than 38,000 civilians have been killed in the 18-year conflict in Afghanistan, according to estimates.

A UN report earlier this month said almost 1,200 civilians were killed from July to September this year -- a 42 percent increase over the same period last year.

With reporting by dpa