The Afghan authorities attribute the congestion at the crossings on the Iranian border to the poor ability of the Iranian side to absorb the steady increase of visa holders, as Iran grants 7,000 entry visas per day to Afghans, but the crossing does not allow the passage of more than a thousand travelers.
Herat – A few steps away from the entry point to Iran at the “Islam Qala” crossing in Herat province in western Afghanistan, Afghani Muhammad Salem Hamrah and his wife stood exchanging their two-year-old daughter’s pregnancy.
The husband said that the travelers’ cooperation, out of compassion for his daughter and wife, enabled him to reach the passport office in the afternoon, despite his arrival at the crossing since the previous night. But at the last stop, he had to wait for the ball again the next day, due to the end of work hours on the Iranian side of the crossing.
Hamrah, who comes from Kapisa state, north of the capital, Kabul, tells Al Jazeera Net that he is forced to go to work in Iran because of the difficult economic conditions in his country, and he graduated from university with distinction in the field of social sciences.
As for Muhammad Yassin, who is over 60 years old, he says that it is the second time he has reached the crossing with the aim of treatment in Iran, and he had to return to his home in the northwestern province of Faryab at the end of last December, due to the closure of the border from the Iranian side for a period of 15 As part of measures to contain the spread of the Corona virus, “Omicron” mutated.
Yassin separated from his companions in the midst of the crowd and they could no longer meet in the crowded conditions at the crossing gate, and he managed to obtain the exit stamp, while the entry stamp into Iranian territory was recorded by another day of suffering.
In their interview with Al-Jazeera Net, Hamrah and Yassin called on the Iranian and Afghan sides to reconsider the procedures followed at the crossings with the aim of ending the suffering of travelers in a legal manner, and facilitating the entry of visa holders granted to them by the Iranian embassy and consulates in Afghanistan.
They say that travelers cost more money than usual in the normal conditions of transportation, in addition to the human suffering.
Thousands of Afghans need several days in difficult conditions, to be able to cross the “Islam Qala” crossing, the border gateway to Iran, in addition to the long distances they have traveled from their areas across Afghanistan. The travelers describe the situation here as “chaos” that causes human suffering to them, due to the lack of coordination between the Afghan and Iranian crossing administrations.
Reaching the Islam Qala gate – on the Afghan side of the border in Herat province – is almost impossible without waiting for hours or days, and the road was crowded with passenger cars and trolleys transporting their bags, along with a queue of travelers more than a kilometer long.
The “Islam Qala” crossing is located in the province of Herat, western Afghanistan, and it is one of the two land crossings with Iran, along with the crossing in the neighboring province of Nimroz, which was also closed to prevent the flow of refugees in the wake of the collapse of the previous Afghan government last summer.
Reaching the crossing gate was not possible without one of the Afghan security personnel volunteering to take us on a bumpy back road for several kilometers, interrupted by several security control points.
The stormy weather increased the tension of the travelers who reached the end of the tunnel by approaching the passport stamp office, and each of them carried with him a story of an ordeal that he hopes will end by entering Iranian territory legally, and to avoid being arrested by the Iranian authorities or being chased by border guards with smugglers’ convoys between mountain and desert corridors. .
Visas in the thousands..but
The Afghan authorities attribute the congestion at the crossings on the Iranian border to the weak ability of the Iranian side to absorb the steady increase in visa holders.
Hazratullah Zaim, director of the Afghan side of the “Islam Qala” crossing, says that the Iranian authorities grant about 7,000 entry visas per day to travelers from Afghanistan, while its employees at the crossing do not receive more than 1,000 passengers per day.
He added that Iran continued to grant visas despite its announcement that the borders were closed to contain the spread of the Corona virus, which contributed to the doubling of the congestion of travelers in front of the crossing. While the Afghan side requested a meeting with Iranian officials at the crossing in order to coordinate and solve the problem likely to continue, and said that it had received a promise to hold a meeting aimed at increasing coordination and working to end the suffering of legal travelers.
The Afghan official at the “Islam Qala” crossing says that the measures taken by the Afghan authorities to facilitate procedures and control traffic – such as doubling the number of staff and security personnel – are nothing but an attempt to manage the crisis. He believes that the solution can only be with the cooperation of both sides.