Photo: Shargh Daily

Iranian MP: refugee policies should be reconsidered if Helmand Water not released

A member of the Iranian parliament has emphasized that Iran should reconsider its policies for Afghanistan refugees if the Taliban do not release the Helmand Water into Iran’s eastern region.

“Afghanistan has not released Helmand Water into Iran yet,” Mohammad Sargazi who represents the Sistan-Balochistan region told Iran’s ILNA news agency. “One of the crucial solutions is that Iran reconsiders its politics of refugees and migrants from Afghanistan.”

This Iranian MP further indicated, “Iran hosts millions of Afghanistan refugees and migrants, providing them refuge and public services and our neighbor won’t even release the Helmand Water which is our right.”

He stressed that Sistan will face a shortage of safe drinking water and water for irrigation in the next two months if Helmand River water is not released.

Tensions between Afghanistan and Iran over Helmand water rights have surged in recent months. Iran has blamed the Taliban for failing to uphold Afghanistan’s treaty obligations to provide Iran’s share of water from the Helmand River. Iran claims to receive less than four percent of its entitled water rights from the river.

The Taliban has said that it remains committed to the 1973 treaty which obliges Afghanistan to flow twenty-two cubic meters of water per second into Iran, but cited drought-induced water shortage as the problem.

This also comes amid the massive deportation of Afghanistan refugees from Iran. Since March, Iran has deported at least 90,000 refugees back to Afghanistan and the number is on the rise.

Last week, Iran barred Afghanistan refugees from residency cards and work permits in the western Kermanshah province, saying they will be detained and deported in a matter of weeks.