Need to Help Afghan Refugees Return Home

Need to Help Afghan Refugees Return Home   Need to Help Afghan Refugees Return Home

A senior Foreign Ministry official said Iran alongside the international community feels a responsibility to help pave the way for the voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees to their home country.         

Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araqchi made the statement in a meeting with the visiting head of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Pedro Commissario Afonso, on Sunday, IRNA reported.

"Iran's policy on refugees is to [help facilitate] their voluntary return, and we believe with the skills and expertise Afghan immigrants have gained in our country, they should be able to serve as efficient workforce in reconstructing their own country," he noted.

Araqchi said the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan would prevent militant groups such as the Taliban and the so-called Islamic State from conducting terrorist activities in the eastern neighbor.

He said Iran has been hosting millions of refugees from regional countries, especially Afghanistan, over the past 30 years, even when the country itself was engaged in the Iraqi imposed war (1980-1988) and suffered from "illegal" sanctions. The deputy minister expressed Iran's readiness to attend the UNHCR-organized conference on the situation of Afghan refugees, due to be held in Geneva in October, describing the UN decision to hold the event as a "correct" and "timely" move.  

  Generous Hosting

The UNHCR official hailed Iran's "generous hosting" of Afghan refugees over the past three decades despite all the consequent difficulties and said, "The measures adopted by Iran to help and support Afghan refugees are a brilliant example for the international community."   

Afonso said the upcoming UN meeting aims to attract the world's attention to help find sustainable ways for Afghan refugees' reintegration in their homeland, adding that the conference will also provide an opportunity for the international community to become familiar with the assistance and services provided by host countries, especially Iran, to Afghan refugees.

Afghans in Iran are mostly refugees who have fled war, misery, and poverty in their country since the April 1978 Saur Revolution in Kabul. According to UNHCR, there are 950,000 registered Afghan citizens living in Iran. However, the Interior Ministry estimates the total number of Afghans in Iran to be around 3 million. Between January 2002 and June 2014, UNHCR assisted 918,263 Afghans in voluntarily returning home from Iran.