Tehran Meeting on Afghan Refugee Repatriation

Tehran Meeting on Afghan Refugee Repatriation

The fourth meeting of the four-way strategic committee on Afghan refugees was held in Tehran on Tuesday, IRNA reported.  
The committee includes representatives from Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who sat down to explore solutions to accelerate the repatriation of Afghan refugees and asylum seekers in Iran and Pakistan to their home country.  
“Afghan refugees in Iran constitute one of the largest refugee populations in the world,”  Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said in an address to the meeting, adding that Iran has hosted Afghan refugees since the occupation of their country by the former Soviet Union in late 1970s.  
The minister noted that over more than three decades, “The Islamic Republic has kept all (Afghan) refugees under the umbrella of its full support based on Islamic and humanitarian principles.”
Turning to the issue of refugee repatriation, he underlined the significance of offering financial support to volunteers who are ready to return home to help them meet their basic needs upon arrival. He hailed efforts by the UNHCR to find international donors to support the repatriation, but said the aid has been “far from the real needs of the refugees.”  
“Such efforts can bear fruit only when the ground is prepared for the return of refugees and their absorption into their own society,” he noted.  
He called on the UNHCR to formulate policies and schemes such offering incentive packages that encourage Afghan refugees to return to their homeland and increase the amount of financial aid to them. He also asked the UNHCR and the international community to help create the necessary infrastructure in the South Asian country so that the refugees that go back home will enjoy adequate living standards, education and health care.  
Urging all sides to help establish peace and stability in the neighboring country, he said Iran has proved that it keeps its promises, citing as evidence Iran’s participation in reconstruction projects in Afghanistan.     

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