TEHRAN, May 1 (UPI) -- More than 30,000 Afghan refugees were expelled from Iran in a few days, and an Iranian official said Tehran would expel 1 million Afghans by March 2008.
"More than 30,000 people have been collected and the majority of them sent back to their country via the borders," Interior Minister Mostafa Pour Mohammadi said in the daily Tehran Emrouz, the Fars news agency reported.
"In the first phase of our plan, we hope to expel 500,000 people and when this is successful we shall fulfill the plan of repatriating 1 million resident aliens by the end of the year (March 2008)," he said.
Afghanistan has asked Iran not to expel the refugees, who fled violence in their homeland, saying it doesn't have the resources to house them, Fars reported.
The news agency said many of Afghans living in Iran work cheaply either in the construction industry or as guards. A police official said employers who hire Afghans without worker permits face severe punishment.