Afghan diaspora or Afghan immigrants are citizens of Afghanistan who have immigrated to other countries, or people of Afghan origin who are born outside Afghanistan. Traditionally, the borders between Afghanistan and its southern and eastern neighboring countries have been fluid and vague. Like other nations that were created by European empires, the borders of Afghanistan with neighboring countries often do not follow ethnic divisions, and several native ethnic groups are found on both sides of Afghanistan's border. This means that historically there was much movement across present day barriers.
After the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, refugees fled to neighboring Pakistan and Iran. Some rural Afghan refugees began returning to their homeland in 1992, but the outbreak of a major civil war after the mujahideen took over control of Kabul and the other major cities meant that Afghans again began fleeing to neighboring countries, this time many being urbanites. Afghan Sikhs and Afghan Hindus journeyed to India.
Since March 2002, most Afghan refugees have been repatriated to Afghanistan with UNHCR's assistance. Around 1.3 million still remain in Pakistan, while 2.5 million are in Iran. Several countries that were part of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have granted permanent residency to smaller number of Afghans that worked with their respective forces. Afghan natives now reside in at least 78 countries around the world.
Afghans returning from Pakistan often complain that "they have been beaten and slapped and told nobody in Pakistan wants them anymore." Returnees from Iran experience similar or worst punishments. A number of returnees to Afghanistan make new journeys to the European Union (EU) to seek asylum there. To abide by United Nations Convention against Torture, Pakistan has agreed that no Afghan refugee would be forcefully removed from its country. Under a new agreement between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the UNHCR, the Afghans in Pakistan are officially allowed to remain until the end of 2017. The Afghans in Iran have also been given extended time.
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