Call for Voluntary Return of Afghan Refugees

Call for Voluntary Return of Afghan RefugeesCall for Voluntary Return of Afghan Refugees

Afghanistan needs to make a decision about the future of its nationals in Iran and take effective measures to pave the way for their voluntary return, a senior official says.

Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli made the remark in a meeting with Afghanistan's Refugees and Repatriation Minister Hussain Alemi Balkhi in Geneva on Tuesday on the sidelines of the 66th Session of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' Program, IRNA reported.  

"Afghanistan should make serious efforts to prevent its nationals from entering Iran illegally," Rahmani Fazli reiterated.

Underscoring the fact that refugees' problems are a global concern, he said, "The international community and foundations ought to set aside formalities and make a more practical contribution to address the issue which cannot be solved through political slogans."

Expressing regret over the recent bombardment of a hospital in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan by the US-led coalition claiming the lives of over 20 people, the minister voiced Iran's readiness to assist the wounded.

The Iranian minister believes that bilateral agreements cannot be implemented unless more meetings are held between the two sides' officials.

He also said immediate steps such as construction of residential complexes in Afghanistan should be high on the agenda of the international community to encourage people to stay in their homeland.

Highlighting Iranians' hospitality and openness to hosting millions of Afghan migrants during the tough years of the Iran-Iraq War [1980-1988], Rahmani Fazli noted, "Lots of European states are now facing severe problems in sheltering several thousand refugees who have fled their homelands [from conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa]."

Appreciating Iran's efforts to host Afghan refugees for almost four decades, the Afghan minister noted that his country's officials are doing their best to prepare the ground for repatriation of their citizens.

In a separate meeting with Pakistani Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch, Rahmani Fazli called for efforts to enhance security along the joint border and improve the standard of living in border areas by establishing "border markets", which is the only way to help those people not get involved in drug and human trafficking.

According to Baloch, Pakistan attaches great importance to expansion of security cooperation with Iran.