Road Traffic Accidents of Undocumented Immigrants Crossing Southeast Borders of Iran


avatar Mohammad Khammarnia ORCID 1 , * , avatar Fatemeh Setoodehzadeh ORCID 1

Health Promotion Research Center, Zahedan University of Medical Sciences, Zahedan, Iran

how to cite: Khammarnia M, Setoodehzadeh F. Road Traffic Accidents of Undocumented Immigrants Crossing Southeast Borders of Iran. Shiraz E-Med J. 2023;24(8):e138162.

Dear Editor,

Illegal migration and movement frequently appear during socio-economic condition, war, and political pressure (1). This phenomenon is seen more in Asian countries, which host diverse cultures, economies, political systems, and settlement patterns (2). Also, migration from poor regions is increasing across Asia (3). Many migrants have an irregular status in their destination country, especially during crossing borders. In this regard, Palacio reported that undocumented immigrants face border fence-related injuries and motor vehicle accidents. This type of injury often requires surgical intervention and a longer hospital stay for severe injuries (4).

One of these migration flows is the illegal movement of foreign nationals from Afghanistan and Pakistan into Iran. The entry and residence of foreigners under unauthorized, displaced persons or refugees are one issue that has faced the Iranian government with many challenges (5). This phenomenon increases the number of road traffic accidents and the resulting deaths.

Sistan and Baluchistan province in southeast Iran has 1100 kilometers with Afghanistan and Pakistan (6). Smugglers and profiteers always abuse it due to its borders with the two countries. The political and social changes in Afghanistan in recent years have led to the arrival of more Afghan nationals to Iran and, as a result, increased accidents on southeastern Iran roads.

The transfer of undocumented immigrants and the movement of vehicles carrying smuggled fuel are the main activities of smugglers in this region. These, as one of the important and influential factors in traffic accidents in this province, always cause concern for passengers and drivers of other vehicles (7). Since about 15 to 50 immigrants are riding in some cars carrying foreigners, casualties have increased in the event of an accident (Figures 1 and 2).

Images of cars carrying foreigners after the accident
Images of cars carrying foreigners after the accident
Images of cars carrying foreigners after the accident
Images of cars carrying foreigners after the accident

These accidents have caused Sistan and Baluchistan province to be recognized as the third province for road accidents in Iran.

According to reports expressed by health system managers in this province, annually more than $555,000 was spent on treating foreign nationals in the region (2021 - 2022) (8) injured in road traffic accidents. The lack of insurance coverage and the inability of non-Iranian nationals to cover the costs of treatment have caused severe economic burdens to be imposed on hospitals and medical centers in southeast Iran.

In general, the movement of undocumented immigrants significantly impacts the public safety of the regions (9). On the other hand, an increased burden on healthcare workers is also one of the consequences of these accidents; therefore, immigration control and illegal traffic and border control can lead to reducing this burden.


  • 1.

    Baldwin-Edwards M. Towards a Theory of Illegal Migration: historical and structural components. Third World Q. 2008;29(7):1449-59.

  • 2.

    Charles-Edwards E, Muhidin S, Bell M, Zhu Y. Migration in Asia. In: White M, editor. International Handbook of Migration and Population Distribution. International Handbooks of Population. Vol. 6. Dordrecht: Springer; 2016. p. 269-84.

  • 3.

    Deshingkar P. Internal Migration, Poverty and Development in Asia: Including the Excluded. IDS Bull. 2006;37(3):88-100.

  • 4.

    Palacio CH, Cruz B, Vanier C, Cano J, Scott BG. The mechanism and pattern of injuries of undocumented immigrants crossing the Texas-Mexico border along the Rio Grande Valley. Inj Epidemiol. 2021;8(1):58. [PubMed ID: 34706773]. [PubMed Central ID: PMC8554975].

  • 5.

    Tavassoli Naini M. [The Consequences of Unauthorised Entry and Residence of Foreign Nationals in Iran]. Journal of Comparative Law. 2021;(8):47-64. Persian.

  • 6.

    Khammarnia M, Ghiasvand H, Javadi F, Safdari Adimi F. Equity in the Distribution of Health Resources: A Case Study in Southeast Iran. Shiraz E-Med J. 2021;22(8):e106392.

  • 7.

    Setoodehzadeh F, Ansari-Moghaddam A, Okati-Aliabad H, Khammarnia M, Mohammadi M. Self-reported Motorcycle Riding Behavior in Southeast of Iran. Health Scope. 2021;10(3):e116025.

  • 8.

    Islamic Republic News Agency. [The overturning of a Toyota carrying illegal aliens left 40 injured in Saravan]. 2022. Persian. Available from:

  • 9.

    Bakhtiari T, Aslani N. [The effect of illegal traffic of Afghan nationals on the public security of West Azerbaijan province]. Intelligence and Criminal Research Journal. 2019;13(1):183-206. Persian.