Tajikistan authorities say cannot host many refugees from Afghanistan

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Tajikistan has warned that the ex-Soviet republic lacks the infrastructure to house many refugees from neighboring Afghanistan and blamed international organizations for failing to help.

The Khovar state information agency said on Thursday that Interior Minister Ramazon Hamro Rahimzoda had met with the country director for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to discuss the growing refugee and humanitarian crises in Afghanistan.

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During the meeting on Wednesday Rahimzoda said that 80 Afghan families currently located at the border the two countries share were seeking to cross into Tajikistan “out of fear for their lives.”

Rahimzoda complained that although Tajikistan had prepared areas to accept refugees, international agencies had not offered “practical assistance” to house them.

“Because of this, in the Republic of Tajikistan there is no opportunity to receive a large number of refugees and asylum seekers,” the state news agency quoted Rahimzoda as saying.

The minister also noted that Tajikistan had “peacefully returned” 5,000 Afghan military personnel who fled over its borders as the Taliban seized control of its southern neighbor.

Rahimzoda said that instability and the growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan risked “the transfer of terrorists to other countries,” Khovar reported.

The Taliban’s rapid-fire rise to power has triggered alarm in Central Asian countries, notably Tajikistan, which endured a five-year civil war in the 1990s and shares a border of over 1,300 kilometers with Afghanistan.

Next-door Uzbekistan said last month that it had returned 150 Afghans at the refugees’ own request and after negotiating with the Taliban to guarantee their security.

None of the Central Asian states bordering Afghanistan have provided totals for the numbers of refugees they have accepted since the Taliban’s military offensives began in May.

Tajikistan in July said it was prepared to accept 100,000 refugees from Afghanistan but quickly backtracked, citing complications related to the coronavirus among other obstacles.

Unlike Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, which hosts a Russian military base, has indicated that it is not ready to hold official talks with the Taliban.

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