Afghans in Iran
Afghans in Iran are refugees and immigrants who fled Soviet–Afghan war, its ensuing civil war, and the U.S. war in Afghanistan. They include an unknown number of illegal migrant workers, as well as a smaller number of traders, exchanged students, diplomats, and tourists. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, as of 2016 there were 951,142 registered Afghan citizens living in Iran, most of these were born and raised in Iran during the last three and a half decades.
|c. 4.5 million (2018 estimate), of which 951,142 are registered refugees, 450,000 entered Iran with passports and visas, and the remaining number entered Iran illegally.|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Sizeable populations in Tehran, Zabol, the outskirts of Mashhad, and around the Afghanistan-Iran border|
|Persian (including Dari and Hazaragi) and other languages of Afghanistan|
|Islam (Sunni and Shia)|
In 2015, Iran's Ministry of Interior reported that the total number of Afghans in Iran could be as high as 4.5 million, which includes those who are registered by the UNHCR as refugees, visa holders, and those who entered the country illegally. Afghans in Iran are under the care and protection of the UNHCR, and are provided time-limited legal status without a path to obtain permanent residency by the Bureau of Aliens and Foreign Immigrant Affairs of Iran.
Many face forceful deportation every year, for example, in 2006 about 146,387 undocumented Afghans were deported. In 2010, six Afghan prisoners were executed by hanging in the streets of Iran, which sparked angry demonstrations in Afghanistan. In 2010, approximately 140,000 to 150,000 Afghans were reported to be in Iranian jails for felony.
Legal immigrants are entitled to reside in Iran under two categories: temporary residence permit card holders, and passport-holders. Registered refugees have a so-called "Amiesh Card" that are renewed annually. The renewal cost for the year 2019 were as follows , (USD equivalents are based on the April 2019 exchange rates $1~180K rial)
- 80,000 rial (~$0.45 USD) for application fee (5,000 for administrative fees – 50,000 for issuance– 25,000 for fingerprints)
- 172,000 rial (~$0.95 USD) tariffs for Amiesh Card (per person)
- 2,070,000 rial (~$11 USD) for work permit
- Between 1,200,000 to 1,500,000 rial (~$6.7 - $8.3 USD) for the right to work (for every employed person).
- Between 90,000 to 370,000 rial (~$0.5 - $2 USD) for accidental insurance (mandatory for work permit holder, and optional for households).
- Municipality taxes per year: In 2019 in Tehran,
The immigrants only have the right to travel in a province whose card has been issued there, and for travel outside the province should receive an inter-provincial travel passes, for 150,000 rial each instance.
The above costs may add up to annual ~$42 USD for a family of five. Monthly salaries of Afghans in Iran could be as low as less than $100 per month, to as high as $130, $280, $300, $350, or even $400 per month. The new Iranian residency law, passed on July 2019, provides migrants particularly those from Afghanistan with a new chance to get Iran’s residency. According to this law, each investor will get a five-year Iranian residency if they invest a minimum of €250,000. Also, under special conditions such as having Iranian spouses and children or providing valuable work or public services, foreign nationals could enjoy facilitated conditions for obtaining Iranian residency .
The presence of Afghans nationals in 15 provinces is completely prohibited, and partially prohibited in the other 12 provinces. The Iranian government decided to restrict the presence of Afghan citizens in the provinces via provincial executive orders.
|Azarbaijan, East||The residence of Afghan citizens at the provincial level ( except Tabriz city ) is prohibited.|
|Azerbaijan, West||The residence of Afghan citizens at the provincial level ( other than Urmia city ) is prohibited.|
|Ardebil||The residence of Afghan nationals at the provincial level ( other than the city of Ardabil city ) is prohibited.|
|Esfahan||The residence of Afghan nationals is prohibited in the counties of Natanz , Fryden , Fereydoun , Semirom , Chadgan , Khansar , Dehagan , Nain , Golpayegan , Khorobiabank , Ardestan and Abu Zaid district of Aran va Bidgol. But their recidence is allowed in Esfahan city.|
|Alborz||Residents of non-Iranian citizens are allowed in the entire province.|
|Ilam||The residence of Afghan citizens in the province ( other than Ilam city ) is prohibited.|
|Bushehr||The residence of Afghan nationals in the counties of Deylam and Genavh is prohibited.|
|Tehran||Residents of non-Iranian citizens throughout the province is allowed (with the exception of Khojir and Khojir national park area in Tehran's 13th District for Afghan nationals).|
|Chaharmahal va Bakhtiari||The residence of Afghan citizens in the province ( other than the Shahr-Kord city ) is prohibited.|
|southern Khorasan||The residence of Afghan citizens is allowed in the cities of Khosf and Birjand.|
|Khorasan Razavi||The residence of Afghan citizens in the counties of Torbat Jam , Quchan , Taybad , Khaf , Sarakhs , Kalat Naderi and Dargaz boundaries is prohibited.|
|North Khorasan||The residence of Afghan nationals at the provincial level ( other than the city of Bojnourd ) is prohibited.|
|Khuzestan||The residence of Afghan citizens at the provincial level ( except Ahwaz and Gotvand ) is prohibited.|
|Zanjan||The residence of Afghan citizens at the provincial level ( other than Zanjan city ) is prohibited.|
|Semnan||The residence of Afghan citizens in Shahrood city and Damghan city is prohibited.|
|Sistan and Baluchestan||The residence of Afghan nationals throughout the province ( other than the city of Zahedan ) is prohibited.|
|Fars||The residence of Afghan citizens in the counties of Firoozabad , Farashband , Darab , Arsanjan , Fasa , Mehr , Rostam , Khonj and Nayriz is prohibited.|
|Qazvin||The residence of Afghan nationals throughout the province ( other than Qazvin city ) is prohibited.|
|Qom||Residents of non-Iranian citizens are allowed in the entire province.|
|Kurdistan||The residence of Afghan nationals at the provincial level ( other than Sanandaj city ) is prohibited.|
|Kerman||The residence of Afghan nationals is prohibited in counties of Anbarabad , Baft , Manujan , Ghaleghand , Bam , Fahraj , Rudbar , Faryab , Narmeshir , Kahnouj , Jiroft , Anar and Rigan .|
|Kermanshah||The residence of Afghan nationals at the provincial level ( other than the Kermanshah city ) is prohibited.|
|Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province||The residence of Afghan citizens at the provincial level ( except Yasuj city ) is prohibited.|
|Golestan||The residence of Afghan nationals throughout the province ( other than Gorgan city and Gonbad city ) is prohibited.|
|Gilan||The residence of Afghan citizens at the provincial level ( except Rasht city ) is prohibited.|
|Lorestan||The residence of Afghan citizens at the provincial level ( other than the city of Khorramabad ) is prohibited.|
|Mazandaran||The residence of Afghan citizens at the provincial level ( other than the city of Sari ) is prohibited.|
|Markazi Province||The residence of Afghan nationals is prohibited in counties of Ashtian , Tafresh , Farahan , Farahan , Khomein , Shazand , Mahallat , Zarandiyeh , Kandyan and Khondab .|
|Hormozgan||The residence of Afghan nationals throughout the province ( other than Bandar Abbas city ) is prohibited.|
|Hamedan||Accommodation of Afghan citizens at the provincial level ( except Hamedan city ) is prohibited.|
|Yazd||The residence of Afghan citizens is strictly prohibited in the counties of Khatam and Bafq .|
According to official statistics released in Iran, Afghan workers, with a population of 2 million, have about 10% of the labor market in Iran. The presence of Afghan workers in Iran has provoked many Iranian workers' protests. The Iranian government has also imposed a number of restrictions, including the ban on the use of foreign workers in governmental and non-governmental organizations, and called on all government agencies, non-state actors, companies and contractors to provide their needed labor to Iranian workforce, with numerous penalties, including imprisonment and a fine for the offending employers. However, many employers, especially private ones, prefer to use Afghan laborers due their low wage expectations, lack of insurance requirements, and their high productivity. Experts believe that the cause of the unemployment problem is not the presence of foreign nationals, as most foreigners are engaged in simple jobs, while the high unemployment rate is high among the graduate students and professionals.
According to the Iranian Labor Law, foreign nationals who have work permit and residency permit can only work in authorized jobs as decided by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. Work permits granted to foreign nationals are usually valid for one year only and require renewals annually.
Employers who employ foreign nationals without valid work permits may face imprisonment of 90-180 days for each day of work and fines that is equivalent to five times the daily salary of one worker per day. This fine was about 1,540,000 rial per day (~$45/day) in 2017. The fine doubles for repeat offenders.
Work permits in Iran are granted to these categories:
- Foreign nationals who have been present in Iran for 10 years,
- Foreigners who have Iranian husband,
- Immigrants from foreign countries, refugees, provided they have a
- valid immigration or asylum card, and
- written consent of the ministries of state and foreign affairs
According to the Iranian Labor Code, Afghan refugees are only allowed to work in the following jobs, except in certain circumstances where there is no Iranian willing to take the job.
|Brickwork and Plastering||Construction work||Agricultural work||Other Occupations||Other Occupations (only in Tehran Province)|
Political history and migrationEdit
As neighboring countries with cultural ties, there has been a long history of population movements between Iran and Afghanistan. Southern Afghanistan was contested between the Persian Safavid dynasty and the Moghuls of India until 1709 when Mir Wais Hotak, founder of the Hotaki dynasty, declared it independent. During the reign of Nader Shah, the brother of Ahmad Shah Durrani was made Governor of Mazandaran Province. A few years after Nader Shah's death, Durrani and his Afghan army made Nader's grandson Shahrokh Afshar, ruler of the small remaining Afshar territory comprising the Khorasan and Kohistan provinces of Iran, their vassal for some years. The region remained a vassal territory of the Afghan Empire until Durrani's death. During the early 19th century, the Persian army invaded Herat several times but with British assistance the Afghans quickly expelled them. Communities made up of 2,000 and 5,000 households of ethnic Hazaras were formed in Torbat-e Jam and Bakharz in Iran. The 1857 Treaty of Paris ended hostilities of the Anglo-Persian War. The modern day Afghan–Iranian border gradually began to take shape in the second half of the 19th century.
Afghan migrant workers, pilgrims and merchants, who settled in Iran over the years, had by the early 20th century, become large enough to be officially classified as their own ethnic group, referred to variously as Khavari or Barbari. Young Hazara men have embraced migrant work in Iran and other Persian Gulf states in order to save money for marriage and become independent; such work has even come to be seen as a "rite of passage". Such migration intensified in the early 1970s due to famine, and by 1978, there were an estimated several hundred thousand Afghan migrant workers in Iran.
The Soviet–Afghan War, which erupted in 1979, was the beginning of a series of major waves of refugee flight from Afghanistan. Those who came to Iran often augmented the ranks of migrant workers already there. The new Islamic Republic took place around the same time as the influx of masses of Afghan migrants to other countries, fleeing the plagues of problems in their own country. Iran started recognising those Afghans listed as migrants workers or refugees as legals. They issued them "blue cards" to denote their status, entitling them to free primary and secondary education, as well as subsidised healthcare and food. However, the government maintained some restrictions on their employment, namely prohibiting them from owning their own businesses or working as street vendors.
Most of the early academic attention on these new immigrants was focused on ethnically Pashtun Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Studies on Afghans in Iran came later due to the political situation during the Iran–Iraq War. By 1992, a report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that there were around 2.8 million Afghans in Iran. Just 10% were housed in refugee camps; most settled in or near urban areas. For their efforts in housing and educating these refugees and illegals, the Iranian government received little financial aid from the international community. With the fall of the Najibullah government of Afghanistan in 1992, Iran began efforts to encourage refugees to repatriate. During these years, there were many reports of cases of Afghans being harassed by Iranian law enforcement officers. Legal residents had their identity cards confiscated and exchanged with temporary residency permits of one-month validity, at the expiry of which they were expected to have left Iran and have repatriated.
Between 2002 and 2016, more than 5 million Afghan refugees have been repatriated through the UNHCR from both Pakistan and Iran. This was done on a yearly bases. For example, in 2011 more than 60,000 Afghan refugees living in Iran voluntarily returned to Afghanistan.
In 2012, around 173,000 Afghans were forcefully deported by Iran. Over 103,086 more were deported in 2013. Many of the deportees complained of torture and other abuses by the Iranian police. According to the UNHCR, as of 2016 there are 951,142 registered Afghan citizens living in Iran. Most of these were born and raised in Iran during the last three and a half decades. The Government of Iran estimated in 2015 that 2.5 million Afghans live in Iran, which includes the registered and illegals as well as those who entered the country with Afghan passports and Iranian visas.
Social life and other issuesEdit
Afghan refugees have come to Iran since the 1980s, including children and adolescents. Many were born in Iran over the last 30 years but were unable to gain citizenship due to Iranian immigration laws. The refugees include Hazaras, Tajiks, Qizilbash, Pashtuns, and other ethnic groups of Afghanistan. One UNHCR paper claims that nearly half the documented refugees are Hazara, a primarily Shi'a group.
In Afghanistan, some people feel that using birth control violates the tenets of their religion; however, in Iran, attitudes are far different, due to the country's extensive promotion of family planning. Afghans in Iran have moved closer to mainstream Iranian values in this regard; the Iranian influence has even filtered back into Afghanistan. One study in Khorasan has found that while overall fertility rates for Afghan migrant women are somewhat higher than those for Iranian women there—3.9 vs. 3.6—the similarity hides significant age-related differences in fertility, with older Afghan migrant women having a far higher number of children than older Iranian urban women, while younger Afghan migrant women's number of children appears to be approaching the far-lower Iranian urban norm. Contraceptive usage among the same study group was 55%, higher than for local Iranian women.
More broadly, the same conservative men who resisted aggressive attempts by communist governments in Afghanistan to expand women's education and their role in the economy are now faced with the very changes from which they had hoped to shield their families. This shift in family and gender roles was induced by the experience of living as refugees in largely Muslim society.
Some Afghan men married Iranian women during their residence in Iran; however, under Iranian nationality law, the children of such marriages are not recognized as Iranian citizens, and it is also more difficult for the men to gain Iranian citizenship than for Afghan women married to Iranian men.
Although Iranian authorities have made efforts to educate Afghan children, Human Rights Watch reports that many undocumented Afghan children face bureaucratic obstacles that prevent their children from attending school, in violation of international law. Iranian law limits Afghans who have permission as refugees to work to a limited number of dangerous and poorly paid manual labor jobs, regardless of their education and skills.
The Iranian government has also failed to take necessary steps to protect its Afghan population from physical violence linked to rising anti-foreigner sentiment in Iran, or to hold those responsible accountable.
According to Article 5 of the Civil Code of Iran, foreign nationals may enjoy the rights in respect of the possession of movable property, except in cases where the government has not prohibited them, but according to Article 1 of the Rules of Procedure, ownership of this category of property is only available to persons who have the right to permanent residence in Iran. For foreigners, there are limits to ownership. For example, they do not have the right to own land and the ownership of residential property, including the official permission of the Iranian government. According to this law, because many Afghan citizens in Iran have temporary residence (card + passport), they do not have the right to own immovable property.
Ethnicity and religionEdit
According to a statement by the deputy director of the General Directorate for Foreign Affairs in 2017, 70% of foreign nationals living in Iran are Shia muslims and the rest are Sunni muslims. Hazara, Tajiks, Pashtuns, and Uzbeks are the main ethnic groups.
|Province||Population by gender||Province||Population by gender||Province||Population by gender|
|East Azarbaijan||76||63||North Khorasan||55||38||Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad||896||607|
|Alborz||45548||38773||Sistan and Baluchestan||14163||12683||Mazandaran||1818||805|
|Chaharmahal va Bakhtiari||60||31||Kurdistan||13||5||Yazd||28286||23457|
Based on the 2016 census, about 46% were under 20 years old and about 67% were under the 30 years old. Given the 40-year presence history, many of them were born in Iran. The Afghan refugee population were younger than the indigenous population of Iran (31% of Iranians were under the age 20, and 49% of Iranians were under the age of 30). One of the main reason is the high birth rates and the low age of marriage in this population.
|Age Group||Population||Age Group||Population|
|0 - 4||90124||85204||175328||40 - 44||44077||33566||77643|
|5 - 9||98288||93099||191387||45 - 49||34883||27983||62866|
|10 - 14||94779||88976||183755||50 - 54||30474||22329||52803|
|15 - 19||89901||83179||173080||55 - 59||20672||14036||34708|
|20 - 24||93028||86973||180001||60 - 64||16387||9746||26133|
|25 - 29||85796||76279||162075||65 - 69||9436||5626||15062|
|30 - 34||66179||55252||121431||70 - 74||6589||3826||10415|
|35 - 39||56910||48545||105455||75+||7744||4093||11837|
Residence of Afghan refugees is prohibited in 15 provinces of Iran, except in the other three provinces of Qom, Alborz, Tehran (except Khojir, district 13), in the rest of the provinces, they only have the right to reside in some cities. Fatemeh Ashrafi, the reason for the restrictions on the movement of Afghan refugees in Iran, allowed the Iranian government, in accordance with the 1951 Convention, to protect refugees from limiting the displacement of foreign immigrants in their country based on national interests and security issues. 
|Tehran||515,567||Sistan and Baluchestan||26,846||Western Azerbaijan||107|
|Kerman||125,411||Golestan||18,273||Chaharmahal va Bakhtiari||91|
|Yazd||51,743||Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad||1,503||Ilam||29|
One of the problems that Afghan immigrants in Iran had was the schooling of children. Law children were enrolled in school fees, and children who did not have legal residency, either retrained or retrained in the PAs. In recent years, the conditions for children's education have been reciprocated by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei's statement that in April 2012, " No Afghan children, even illegal immigrants in Iran, should be excluded from education and all of them must be enrolled in Iranian schools " Many Afghan children were enrolled in Iranian schools and were eligible to study. In 2017, around 360,000 Afghan students will study in 25,409 Iranian schools, and up to 10 percent can continue to study in technical and vocational schools.  The cost of schooling for each student in one academic year is about 1 million and 800 thousand, and more than 2 million in vocational schools, which contributes about 10 percent of all education costs in Iran to the UNHCR, and the remainder, according to government regulations, in the year 93 Islamic Republic of Iran.
According to Article 138 of the Constitution, children who do not have an identity document who age in terms of enrollment and study in the official educational system of the country are identified and a special card is issued under the title "Educational Support Card". University education
University education is not free for Afghan citizens in Iran, and many students have difficulty studying at university with numerous problems, such as higher education costs, the problem of extending a residence permit, having no work record after graduation in Iran to return to Afghanistan, student insurance, non-certification. And the truing performance of issuance, the disregard of a specific budget for immigrant organs for cultural activities, etc. are among the fundamental problems that students face. According to statistics published in 2016, more than 11,000 Afghan students study at Iranian universities. The Afghan immigrants in Iran need to change their student qualifications to study at the university. In the past, after graduation, the student's passport was not credible and the graduate student had to return to his country, but with the reforms that have taken place in recent years, students who have completed their residence permit in Iran could change their student passport to normal. Although the IOM Immigration Program has taken programs to return students to use their expertise in Afghanistan, they lack recruitment in Afghanistan due to lack of infrastructure for their expertise, corruption and ethnicity, and insecurity. Many Iranian graduates are reluctant to return to Afghanistan. Forbidden disciplines
Studying Afghan students in university courses that lead to government-sponsored employment is prohibited, and they can only study in fields other than the following, and at universities that are not forbidden areas for Afghans.
- Atomic physics
- Nuclear physics
- Molecular physics (plasma)
- Particle physics
- Plasma engineering
- Safety Engineering (Technical Inspection and Aircraft Protection)
- Maintenance Engineering (Helicopter and Aircraft)
- Aerospace engineering
- Aeronautical Engineering (Piloting, Aircraft Navigation, Aircraft Maintenance, Helicopter Piloting and Flight Care)
- Military Sciences
- Airline Electronics
- Aircraft Maintenance
- Airplane Contacts
- Air traffic control
- IT (Secure Telecommunication Orienteering)
- Satellite technology engineering
- Computer Engineering (Secure Computing Orienteering)
According to an agreement signed between the Refugee Agency, the Office of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Immigrants and Health Insurance, a health insurance program for refugees was adopted, in which many legal immigrants in Iran are covered by insurance. In statistics released in 1396, more than 124,000 Afghan citizens in Iran were enrolled in a health insurance plan, of which 112,000 were highly vulnerable, and more than 1,000 other people had certain illnesses. All the costs of these refugees are paid by the UNHCR. Ibn Insurance includes hospital services, para-clinical services and outpatient services, and only in government hospitals covered by the Ministry of Health. The one-year health insurance cost for vulnerable people and special patients is about 4500 , and other migrants is 460000 tomans.
On August 13th, the High Council for Transplantation of the Council for the Suppression of Transplantation of Trafficking in Persons passed the Prohibition of the Transplant of Foreign Nationals Members, this law resulted in protests in cyberspace, as amended by the Health Minister of Iran Hasan Hashemi in March 2015, the release of the link with Afghan citizens who are Afghan citizens who are marrying or legally living in Iran are given.  The death of an Afghan girl named Latifa Rahmani, 12 years old in 1395, who needed liver transplantation, was very much reflected in the media that the health minister of Iran had the reason to die her progress in her illness and before her father's liver transplant And reiterated the law prohibiting the transplant of members of foreign nationals.
According to statistics released in 1996, more than 5,000 prisoners from foreign nationals are detained in Iran's prisons. The report, released in 2013, accounts for 88 percent of foreign offenders as Afghan nationals. Most of the crimes were committed by illegal immigrants and drug trafficking, and subsequently in the area of conflict and conflict. The executions of some Afghan refugees who were mostly arrested for drug trafficking caused tensions between the two countries, and citizens of Afghanistan have repeatedly demonstrated protests against these executions in the cities of Kabul and Herat .
Marriage with indigenous peopleEdit
According to statistics released in the year 1995, nearly 24,000 marriages of Iranian nationals have been recorded in Iran, and it is anticipated that nearly the same amount of legal marriage has been recorded. According to Article 1060 of the Civil Code of Iran, the marriage of Iranian women to foreign men with the permission of the government and any foreigner who, without the permission referred to above, will marry an Iranian woman, will be sentenced to one year's imprisonment of up to three years. And the government's important marriages are prohibited. Under Iranian law, Afghan women who marry men in Iran are considered citizens of Iran under Article 976 of the Civil Code and can take Iranian citizenship and their children enjoy the conditions of an Iranian citizen, but if Afghan men marry Iranian women to men Citizenship of Iran does not belong and according to Article 979 of the Civil Code they can only apply for citizenship. Children from foreign marriages with Iranian women up to 18 years of age are considered to be their fathers, and if their fathers lack a degree of residence, they will encounter limitations for people without a degree in Iran. These children can apply for citizenship at the age of 18 years. Although plans have been pursued in the Iranian parliament to grant Iranian citizenship to sons of Iranian mothers and fathers, these plans have always been stopped.
According to Article 5 of the Civil Code of Iran, foreign nationals may enjoy the rights in respect of the possession of movable property, except in cases where the government has not prohibited them, but according to Article 1 of the Rules of Procedure, how to own immovable property, ownership of this category of property is only available to persons who have the right to permanent residence in Iran Have. For foreigners, there are limits to ownership. For example, this group does not have the right to own land (land-mine) and the ownership of residential property under certain conditions, including the official permission of the Iranian government. According to this law, because many Afghan citizens in Iran have temporary residence (card + passport), they do not have the right to own immovable property, and only in certain circumstances and when the government allows them.
Execution of Afghans prisonersEdit
Approximately 3,000 Afghan prisoners face the death penalty in Iran. A number of them have been executed by hanging in the last decade. Iran imposes the death penalty even for minor drug-related offenses, such as possession of only 30 grams of amphetamines.
Many Afghan refugees have returned to their country since the fall of the Taliban since 2002.
In popular cultureEdit
Since the 1980s, a number of Iranian movies set in Iran have featured Afghan immigrant characters. One early example is Mohsen Makhmalbaf's 1988 movie The Bicyclist, in which the character of the title, a former Afghan cycling champion, gives a demonstration in his town's square where he rides his bicycle without stopping for seven days and seven nights, with the aim of raising money for life-saving surgery for his wife. In the end, even after seven days, he continues to pedal endlessly, too fatigued to hear his son's pleas to get off his bicycle. One scholar analyses the film as an allegory which parallels the exploitation that Afghan refugees suffer from in Iran and from which they are unable to escape.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (May 2010)
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