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E-International Relations

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Refugees -- Pakistan, Refugees -- Afghanistan, COVID-19 (Disease) -- Pakistan, COVID-19 (Disease) -- Pakistan, Refugees -- Afghanistan -- Social conditions, COVID-19 (Disease) -- Transmission


The coronavirus, along with international economic sanctions and the collapse of the world oil market, has devastated Iran and its economy, bringing the jobs that Afghan refugees have depended on for a livelihood to a halt. Over the last four decades thousands of Afghans have fled their war torn country and have been living in Iran. Now these Afghan refugees are returning to Afghanistan. Although some of the refugees are leaving on their own, many thousands are being forcefully expelled. These returning refugees are overwhelming the meager medical resources of Afghanistan, spreading the coronavirus across the country. These returning refugees are also spreading the disease in the border cities of Herat and Farah, where the returning refugees live in cramped quarters or board crowded buses for the 14 hour ride to Kabul.

Afghanistan is ill equipped to handle all of these returning refugees and the pandemic they bring as it faces an existential political crisis caused by a split and dysfunctional government, an insurgent Taliban, and the potential collapse in international aid. Afghanistan has neither the medical facilities nor the organizational structure to deal with these returning refugees and the pandemic they bring. This crisis also has provided an opportunity for the Taliban who appear to offer medical support to those confronted with the virus.

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