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Transnational Networks and Migration from Faryab to Iran

Transnational Networks and Migration from Faryab to Iran

Transnational Networks and Migration from Faryab to Iran• What have been the immediate consequences of a more hostile Iranian policytowards Afghans, in particular for Afghan labour migrants?This case study on Faryab Province was undertaken as part of AREU’s TransnationalNetworks research project, in which AREU has so far published one other case studyon Herat Province. 9 In 2005, research will be undertaken in eastern Afghanistan,Pakistan and Iran, to better understand transnational networks as a key livelihoodstrategy and to inform advocacy efforts at the government level in Afghanistan andneighbouring countries.This report presents the findings of this research and makes recommendations forthe governments of Afghanistan and Iran, and for assistance agencies. Parts 2 and 3describe the urban neighbourhoods and the rural area featured in the case study,with a particular emphasis on prevailing livelihood strategies and the causes,motives and strategies of past and current migration patterns. Part 4 presents themeans of Afghans travelling to Iran, with a specific focus on the routes, the usage ofsmugglers and passport and visa issues. Part 5 describes the life of Afghan migrantsin Iran, including employment opportunities, remittances and savings, as well as thedifficulties faced in the context of an increasingly hostile Iranian policy. Part 6presents the conclusion and recommendations.1.3 MethodologyThe study in Faryab was undertaken in April and July–August 2004. The researchteam consisted of a female research team leader (expat), one male and one femaleresearch assistant (both Afghan), a mahram (male chaperone) for one of the femaleresearch assistants (who accompanied the mission for one day to the rural areabecause of the absence of the Kabul research assistants) and a driver.The rural area field research took place over three weeks in April 2004. The actualnumber of days spent in the villages was just seven due to suddenly heightenedinsecurity from 8–12 April, including violent protests, large movements of armedmen, and the flight of Faryab’s governor. After three weeks, the research was cutshort because of the potential return of the previous governor which could havegiven rise to renewed tensions in Maimana. As a consequence, three additional daysof the second research period were devoted to the rural area to complement theinitial set of data collected.The rural area was selected on the basis of its proximity to Maimana (around twohours by car), its accessibility during the rainy season, the presence of an NGO forthe initial introduction (InterSOS), and the high prevalence of labour migration toIran. Interviews were held with a total of 53 individuals of all age groups andsocioeconomic classes, of which 32 were men and 21 were women. Key individualswere visited several times because of their expertise and/or to adhere to the formalhierarchy in the area. One Arab, one Uzbek and one Pashtun village was selected toinvestigate the interlinkages between ethnic group, socioeconomic class andcontemporary migration.The two urban neighbourhoods in Maimana were covered over a three-week periodin July and August 2004. These were selected on the basis of place-of-origin9Stigter, 2004Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit 3

Transnational Networks and Migration from Faryab to Iraninformation provided by one displaced Uzbek woman in Herat: her father’s house ina slightly better off neighbourhood, and her husband’s house in a relatively poorerneighbourhood. Interviews were held with 84 respondents of all age groups, with 30in Neighbourhood A and 54 in Neighbourhood B. Fifty respondents were women, and34 were men. Respondents were Uzbek, Tajik and Pashtun, and were from variousoccupational groups.As in the rural area, urban interviewees were at various stages in the cycle ofmigration, including:• migrants returned from Iran (single and, only in the urban area, with theirfamilies);• migrants returned from Pakistan;• migrants returned from elsewhere in Afghanistan (alone and with theirfamilies);• migrants from elsewhere who had settled in Faryab; and• men who had definite plans to go to Iran.Furthermore, in Maimana, interviews were undertaken with various NGOs (Save theChildren, InterSOS, CHA), UN agencies (UNHCR, WFP, UNAMA) and government(Department of Refugees and Repatriation [DoRR], the Passport Unit in the PoliceDepartment, the former governor, and the mayor of Maimana). Interviews were alsoconducted with hawaladars, leather traders, taxi drivers, the taxi stand manager ofthe Herat taxi stand and the Head of the Security Department of Jumaa Bazar.As a result of the insecure environment, ongoing challenges for the research were:relatively short working days (restricted to the daylight hours of 8am–4pm includingthe three- to four-hour drive to the rural area), the delayed arrival of researchassistants from Kabul during the first phase of the field research; a high level ofdistrust because of the political climate; and different respondents playing their ownpolitical agendas and sometimes using the research team to position themselves inFaryab’s political arena.Other challenges during the fieldwork were:• Striking a balance between different ethnicities, socioeconomic classes andgenders. In particular, when landlords unexpectedly arrived, the interviewwith the respondent of a lower echelon came to an immediate halt. In someinstances the same occurred when men entered the scene with only women.• Especially in the urban neighbourhoods, access to young men proved to bedifficult; they were often absent because of work in Iran or elsewhere inAfghanistan. This explains the relatively higher number of femalerespondents in the urban area.• In some cases the confusion caused by conducting research without theprovision of assistance, especially against a backdrop of continuing demandsfor humanitarian aid, might have biased the information provided in terms ofethnic profile, expected numbers of return and estimated numbers ofpotential migrants. Triangulation of data allowed for a correction of thesebiases.• The research team was sometimes received with suspicion, in particularwhen asking detailed questions about migration to Iran. Fears were that ifrespondents provided information about plans, routes and life in Iran, aclampdown on migration opportunities would be the immediate result. ForAfghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit 4

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