Iranians have been increasingly seeking refugee across Europe. Although Iran has been comparatively a safer country than its neighbours Afghanistan, Syria and Ethiopia, economic sufferings, internal conflicts and political crackdowns are pushing Iranians outside their home.
Apart from being a source country, it is also a destination for refugees arriving from neighbouring countries, especially Afghanistan. It is estimated that there are around 1.5 to 2 million Afghan refugees in Iran. The movement of Afghans into Iran can be dated back to the 19th century as a result of rising is Sunni Pashtuns triggered the movement of the Shia Hazaras, a minority community to Iran.
Iran as a source of refugees has occurred in phases. First, due to the economic hardships beginning in 1950 and lasting till the 1979 revolution, second, post the revolution the establishment of an Islamic republic and most recently as intensified poverty and lack of economic opportunities.
Today, Iranians who have not been able to acquire asylum or refugee status fear a return to the country due to political instability coupled with a slowdown in Iran’s economy that is pushing even the Afghan refugees to return home as the informal sector as dried up.