Iran Home to 3.5m Refugees

Iran Home to 3.5m Refugees
Iran Home to 3.5m Refugees

The counselor of the permanent mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations briefed a UN meeting on the services Iran has provided to the refugees from its eastern and western neighbors over three decades.

Mesbah Ansari made the remarks at a meeting of the Third Committee of the 69th session of the UN General Assembly on United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Wednesday, ISNA reported.  He said, "Iran continues to host one of the largest refugee populations of the world and has had two major refugee caseloads, Iraqis and Afghans."

"Over 97 percent of these caseloads reside in the urban settings and less than 3 percent reside in settlements. The government has provided services related to education, health and livelihood to refugees mainly, using the national budget."

Ansari went on to say that all the services were provided to refugees, while the illegitimate sanctions against Iran not only harmed the daily life of the Iranian nationals but also affected all the humanitarian activities in the country and at the borders with neighboring countries.

"Iran is located in a region that remains home to one third of the world’s refugees with some three million and a half people. Nearly, 70 percent of the refugees in the region are Afghan refugees, the majority of whom live in Iran and Pakistan," he noted.

  Voluntary Repatriation

He added that the Iranian government has made significant efforts under the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees, which includes enhanced access to education and work permits for registered Afghan refugees, and expressed hope the strategy will become a key national priority under the new Afghan unity government to make voluntary repatriation to safer areas more attractive and more sustainable.

Referring to millions of Afghan refugees who still continue to live in host countries despite their heartfelt yearning desire to return home, he stated, "The fact is that enough efforts have not been made by the international community for the betterment of the conditions for the return of Afghan refugees… to their country, while, assistance to the returnees has remained very low in comparison with the level of relevant costs."

He described voluntary repatriation to motherland in safety and dignity as an inalienable right of the refugees and resettlement as two solutions for the plight of the refugees. "We… call on the international community to play its role vis-à-vis this global problem by allocating necessary and adequate funds to the relevant projects of Afghan refugees in Iran including the development of educational and health environments and facilities," he concluded.