Publishe Date: 3:48 PM - 6/15/2014 | Print

Interior Minister Off to Geneva to Meet UNHCR Chief on Afghan Refugees

Politics - Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli left Tehran for Geneva on Sunday afternoon to discuss the latest developments and conditions of the Afghan refugees in Iran in a meeting with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the Swiss capital.

The interior minister's two-day visit is aimed at meeting with UNHCR chief and officials as well as European Union officials," Head of the Interior Ministry's Information and International Relations Department Rouhollah Jomeyee told FNA on Sunday.

Jomeyee added that Rahmani Fazli is due to mainly discuss the issue of Afghan refugees with UNHCR and EU officials.

He noted that Iran has been one of the main recepients of a large number of Afghan refugees, and said, "We have provided many services for the welfare of Afghan refugees."

The interior ministry official also reminded that Iran has the highest number of refugees in the world.

Jomeyee pointed to Iran as the biggest financial supporter of the refugees, and said, "We have implemented strategic solutions in support of the voluntary return of the refugees which needs coordination with the UNHCR."

In February, UNHCR Chief Antonio Guterres praised Tehran’s supports and protection for the Afghan and Iraqi refugees residing in Iran.

"Visiting Iran is a great honor for me and I hereby appreciate the philanthropy and hospitality of the generous Iranian nation for their thirty-year hosting of the Afghan and Iraqi refugees," said Guterres in his joint press conference with the managing director of the Iranian Interior Ministry's foreign refugees affairs.

Guterres said that according to statistics 320,000 Afghan children are studying in Iran, which is praiseworthy.

"Most of the Afghan refugees are willing to return to their country, but they are faced with problems that need to be resolved by the Afghan government," he said.

Iran has been a generous host for more than 2 million Afghan refugees for two decades, with little help from the international community.

Tehran has called on the international community to strengthen support for Iran for hosting the Afghan refugees and provide repatriation support for the refugees.

Voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees from Iran has slowed in recent years in the face of poor security and economic conditions in Afghanistan, which Tehran blames on the US-led invasion of the country in 2001.

The office of the UNHCR was established by the UN General Assembly in 1950.

According to the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, the agency is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees.

UNHCR first opened an office in Iran in 1984 and expanded its presence with the massive influx of Iraqi refugees following the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and the start of Afghans' mass return movement to Afghanistan in 1992.

Today UNHCR has its Central office representation in Tehran, plus three sub offices in Mashhad, Kerman and Ahwaz.
 

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