Education, Health Insurance for Afghan Refugees

Education, Health Insurance for Afghan RefugeesEducation, Health Insurance for Afghan Refugees

More than 360,000 Afghan children are registered in Iranian schools, 20,000 in universities and 12,000 at the Al-Mustafa International University in theology programs.

Nearly 50,000 Afghan children have registered for the next academic year (starts Sept. 23), said Ahmad Mohammadifar, head of the Bureau for Aliens & Foreign Immigrants (BAFIA).

In line with the recommendation of the Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, he said there would be no restrictions on schooling of foreign refugees, who are mostly Afghan children.

All foreigners, whether refugees or legal residents, will get health insurance within two months, Mohammadifar said. Refugees are vulnerable social groups and in case of injury or disability, they will not have the capacity to earn a livelihood. Therefore, providing them insurance is essential.

Iran is host to one of the largest and most protracted refugee populations in the world, mostly from Afghanistan. Constant wars and political turbulence for over three decades saw a huge influx of Afghan refugees converging on Iran (and Pakistan), with many taking up low-paid work with little job security. Estimates show that over a decade and half ago, three million Afghans were legally residing in the country, besides 1-1.5 million non-registered refugees, reports IRNA.

Many educated Afghans today, including heads of hospitals, universities and even ministers, studied in Iran, Mohammadifar pointed out.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) also aims to bolster refugee groups and enhance intervention in promoting health, education and livelihoods of vulnerable refugees, so as to eventually help their repatriation.

 Since 2002, 5.8 million Afghan refugees have been repatriated from Iran, 4.7 million with UNHCR assistance. Representing 20% of Afghanistan’s population, returnees remain a key concern to the UNHCR.

However, the Afghan refugee population in Iran has declined in the past five years as political stability slowly returns, and today they are less than a million. Only 10,000 refugees returned during the first seven months of 2014.