بهر مېشتي افغانان
|Regions with significant populations|
|Iran||2.5 million (2022)|
|Pakistan||1.4 million (2022)|
|United States||300,000 (2022)|
|United Arab Emirates||300,000 (2012)|
|United Kingdom||79,000 (2019)|
|Australia||52,000 (2022)|
|New Zealand||3,414 (2013)|
|Dari Persian, Pashto and languages spoken in the respective country of residence|
|Sunni Islam (majority)|
Shia Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism (minorites)
Afghan diaspora refers to the Afghan people that reside and work outside of Afghanistan. They include citizens of Afghanistan who have immigrated to other countries. The majority of the diaspora has been formed by Afghan refugees since the start of the Soviet–Afghan War in 1979; the largest numbers temporarily reside in Iran and Pakistan. As stateless refugees or asylum seekers, they are protected by the well-established non-refoulement principle and the U.N. Convention Against Torture. The ones having at least one American parent are further protected by United States laws.
Outside the immediate region of Afghanistan, the largest and oldest communities of Afghans exist in Germany; large communities also exist in the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Russia, Turkey, Canada, United Kingdom, Sweden, Netherlands, Australia and Austria. Some are nationals and citizens of the countries in those continents, especially those in the United States, Canada, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.
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, Afghan civilians began escaping to neighboring Pakistan and Iran where they were welcomed by the governments of those countries. From there many immigrated to North America, Europe and Oceania. Smaller number went north and began residing in various cities across the then Soviet Union. Some went to India, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere within the Asian continent.
After the withdrawal of Soviet forces in February 1989, large number of Afghans began returning to their homeland, but after the mujahideen took control of the country in 1992 they again began migrated to neighboring countries. From there the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) and many others began helping Afghans to resettle in Europe, North America and Oceania.
Since March 2002, around 4.4 million Afghan refugees have been repatriated to Afghanistan with the assistance of the UNHCR and IOM. Little over 1.4 million still remain in Pakistan and 2.5 million or so in Iran. A number of countries that were part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have granted permanent residency to tens of thousands of eligible Afghans. This creates a legal pathway for those Afghans to become citizens of those countries. Native people of Afghanistan now reside in at least 96 countries around the world. Some of those returning from Pakistan have complained that "they have been beaten and slapped and told nobody in Pakistan wants them anymore." Others have regarded Pakistan as their home because they were born there. 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.
Afghan diaspora around the world
Numerous local places around the world with a high concentration of Afghans have been dubbed "Little Kabul", including Centerville District in Fremont, California, U.S., Steindamm in Hamburg, Germany, Lajpat Nagar in Delhi, India, and Hotel Sevastopol in Moscow, Russia.
Approximately 780,000 registered citizens of Afghanistan are temporarily residing in Iran under the care and protection of the UNHCR. The UNHCR stated in 2020 that little over 2 million undocumented citizens of Afghanistan may be residing in various parts of the country. According to IOM, over 1.1 million of them were repatriated to Afghanistan in 2021.
Significant number of Afghans also reside in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Around 300,000 were reported to be in the UAE where many work in the fields of construction and agriculture, and as business people in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Some of them could be Iranians or Pakistanis using false Afghan passports. Approximately 10,000 Afghans reside in Israel. They are Israelis by nationality. Between 3,500 and 4,000 Afghans reside in Qatar.
Little over 1.4 million registered citizens of Afghanistan are temporarily residing in Pakistan. Of these, 58.1% reside and work in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 22.8% in Balochistan, 11.7% in Punjab, 4.6% in Sindh, 2.4% in the capital Islamabad and 0.3% in Azad Kashmir. They are also under the care and protection of the UNHCR. Some claim that there may be little over 1 million citizens of Afghanistan residing and working in Pakistan without any form of legal documents. But they do not explain where or how those undocumented Afghan citizens reside and work in Pakistan without the Interior Minister taking any action against them. The IOM stated that over 1.1 million undocumented Afghans were repatriated to Afghanistan in 2021. Afghans residing in Pakistan must visit Islamabad in order to obtain their visas to other countries around the world.
Around 15,806 similarly reside in India, mostly in the capital Delhi. In addition to that, there may be around 3.2 million ethnic Pashtuns who trace their origins to present-day Pakistan and Afghanistan. Members of this group are mainly in the Rohilkhand region of Uttar Pradesh, and the cities of Mumbai and Kolkata. They are neither citizens of Pakistan nor Afghanistan. Some prominent figures that belong to this Indian group are Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Feroz Khan, Kader Khan, Madhubala, Zakir Husain and Mohammad Yunus.
In 1999, there were about 10,000 Afghans residing in Uzbekistan. Most returned to Afghanistan or immigrated to other countries. Their total number was 2,500 by 2005. The number of Afghans in Tashkent was about 1,000 in 2017. The number of Afghans in Tajikistan is approximately 6,775 as of 2021. Hundreds are also known to be residing elsewhere. It is believed some 2,500 and probably over 3,000 are in Kazakhstan.
East and Southeast Asia
As of December 2020, there are 7,629 registered Afghan refugees residing in Indonesia under the care and protection of the UNHCR. The government of Japan reported 3,509 natives of Afghanistan residing in its country. Malaysia has approximately 1,100 Afghans. In China, there are "a few thousand" Afghans residing there, including traders based in the international trade city of Yiwu. Small number of natives from Afghanistan also reside and work in Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong, and in the Philippines.
Native people from Afghanistan can be found all over Europe. Germany has the largest Afghan community in that continent. In the end of 2020, a total of 271,805 persons with Afghan citizenship resided in Germany, including refugees and asylum seekers. They are the third largest foreign group residing and working in the city of Hamburg, after the Poles and the Turks.
Elsewhere in Europe various size communities of Afghans exist in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Greece, Italy, Finland, Republic of Ireland, etc. Some have long been citizens of those countries while others are there to seek asylum. The ones that are denied such relief are sent back to Afghanistan. It was reported in 2001 that about 20,000 Afghans were residing in Ukraine. Of these, 15,000 were living in Kyiv and remaining in the Dnieper region.
Between 1992 and 2002, Germany received the highest asylum requests from Afghans in Europe, a total of 57,600. The Netherlands received 36,500 refugees and asylum seekers, the United Kingdom received 29,400, Austria 25,800, Denmark 7,300 and Sweden 3,100. All other countries in the (pre-2004) EU received less than 2,000 asylum requests each from Afghan citizens. Many also arrived during the recent migrant crisis, especially to Germany, Sweden and Austria.
The United States has one of the largest and oldest Afghan population in the Americas, with about 250,000 residing in that country as of 2022. The early ones had arrived before the 1930s. Many were admitted after 1980 under and became Americans under 8 U.S.C. § 1401, 8 U.S.C. § 1427 and 8 U.S.C. § 1436, including under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000. They reside and work in nearly all U.S. states, including in California, New York, Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Michigan, Idaho, Missouri, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Washington, Maryland, Connecticut, Colorado, Ohio, Utah, New Mexico, Oregon, and Tennessee. Their total number is expected to increase in the coming years.
Afghan Canadians form the second largest Afghan community in North America after Afghan Americans. Over 83,995 Afghan natives are settled in Canada and are Canadian citizens. The overwhelming majority of them reside in and around the city of Toronto. The remaining can be found in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, etc.
Small number of natives from Afghanistan are also reported to be residing and working in Ecuador, Brazil, Cuba, Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, Cayman Islands, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Afghans have immigrated to Australia since the mid-19th century. The Ghan passenger train that travels between Adelaide in the south and Darwin in the north is named after them. There are over 47,484 Afghan Australians. They reside in a number of cities but mainly in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane. Around 3,414 Afghans reside in New Zealand. They are all citizens of those two countries. Small number of natives from Afghanistan reportedly reside and work in the islands of Papua New Guinea, Nauru, and Fiji.
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