“I was deported with nothing but a leg injury,” says Ahmad (15), who became the main breadwinner for his family when his dad passed away 3 years ago. His family struggled to make ends meet as COVID19 hit and, though still a child, he was under pressure to marry. Instead he went to Iran in search of work but like many, he was arrested and detained before being deported. IOM Afghanistan’s Protection team screened him at the Milak border and provided WHO-COVID19 prevention information and PPE. Partner War Child UK provided transportation and reunification support and he reached home safely.

Ahmad is one of more than 695,000 undocumented Afghans have returned from Iran so far this year, with unaccompanied children making up a significant and vulnerable minority, and with funding from the Swiss Government, IOM Afghanistan is providing immediate services and support to those most at risk.

Back in Sarepul, IOM’s Protection case worker met with Ahmad and commenced a protection case management assessment to understand his household’s immediate protection needs and risks arising from his situation. The family was in dire straits, unable to meet even their basic needs and struggling with debts. IOM provided emergency assistance so the family could eat and keep a roof over their heads, and worked with Afghanistan UNICEF partner ADWSO to refer Ahmad for education and livelihoods support.

Ahmad has since been able to open a small shop next door to his house, providing him and his family with a sustainable source of income and enabling him to return to school in the afternoons. His mum says she’s happy because she can keep an eye on her son and make sure he has his lunch on time!

IOM Afghanistan is supporting undocumented returnees to access vital Protection services thanks to the support of the Government of Switzerland.

SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities