Appeal for Sustainable Repatriation of Refugees

The latest United Nations survey on international migrant trends cited Iran as one of the world’s four countries with the highest number of refugees.The latest United Nations survey on international migrant trends cited Iran as one of the world’s four countries with the highest number of refugees.
Taking a responsible stance on the critical issue of refugees is a shared responsibility, the fulfillment of which will contribute greatly to regional and international peace and development

The interior minister has called for global involvement in the safe and sustainable repatriation of refugees and migrants living in the Islamic Republic for decades.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly’s first Summit for Refugees and Migrants in New York on Monday, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli took stock of the massive influx of refugees from Afghanistan and Iraq over the past four decades, and said this has placed Iran among the leading countries in humanitarian assistance.

On September 19, the United Nations General Assembly gathered to discuss one of the most pressing issues of modern times: the global refugee crisis. More than 65 million people around the world have been forcibly displaced, including an estimated 21.3 million refugees. Each day, conflict and persecution displace nearly 34,000 people, the world body says.

“The international community as well as the developed world should take full responsibility vis-à-vis this issue,” Fazli stressed.

Delegations from 193 member states attended the meeting, where the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants expressing the political will of world leaders to protect the rights of refugees and migrants, to save lives and share responsibility for large movements on a global scale, was adopted.

The declaration calls for the start of negotiations leading to an international conference and the adoption of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration in 2018; to develop guidelines on the treatment of migrants in vulnerable situations; to achieve a more equitable sharing of the burden and responsibility for hosting and supporting the world’s refugees by adopting a global compact on refugees in 2018. The global compact is a UN initiative to encourage governments and businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies.

The summit of the world’s heads of state aims to develop a blueprint for a better global response to the refugee crisis.

To stop violent extremism, solve the worst global refugee crisis in a quarter century, foster peace in the ravaged Middle East and work to end poverty, disease, hunger and the threat of nuclear weapons is on the agenda as more than 140 heads of state and government descend on New York for the annual UN General Assembly (Sept.20-30).

Fazli said the Islamic Republic has shouldered a great deal of this responsibility and that “immediate action at the global level” is required to tackle the crisis, IRNA reported.

“Iran-based refugees now enjoy job opportunities, as well as education and health services above many international standards, namely the 1951 Refugee Convention, and that has been achieved on the basis of our humanitarian principles,” he maintained.

He noted that the worsening refugee crisis is global in nature and demands a strong global will and investment to be resolved.

  Over 67% Literate

Noting that extensive displacement and the consequent flood of refugees have far more devastating outcomes that go beyond national borders, Fazli said this assembly is an opportune moment to employ a global approach and take a responsible stance on the critical issue.

“This is yet a common undertaking and a shared responsibility, the fulfillment of which contributes tremendously to regional and international peace and development,” he said, calling on governments to take the ling-awaited initiative to achieve the objective.

Fazli took note of the UNHCR’s aid in helping increase literacy among refugees in Iran to over 67% now from 6% decades ago, and said almost all refugees are presently covered by some form of medical insurance.

The fifth phase of the Salamat (health) Insurance is underway to reach out to all refugees with rare diseases and the vulnerable refugee groups.

  Highest Number of Refugees

The latest United Nations survey on international migrant trends cited Iran as one of the world’s four countries with the highest number of refugees.

According to the Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2015 Revision, refugees are mainly in Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Jordan – and come mostly from three countries – Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia, reports.

Iran continues to host one of the largest and most protracted refugee populations in the world, despite the voluntary return of hundreds of thousands of Afghan (and Iraqi) refugees to their countries of origin over the past decade. It remains home to one-third of the world’s refugees with over three million and a half people. Nearly, 70% of the refugees in the region are Afghans, the majority living and working in Iran (and Pakistan).

The Iranian government is the primary contributor to the refugee program through various ministries and organizations. Additional support is provided through semi-governmental organizations and charities. The government grants the refugee population access to medical services, education for students, literacy classes for out of-school children and jobs.

During a visit to Tehran in April, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner George Okoth-Obbo said there are 960,000 documented Afghan refugees in Iran, but the number of unregistered Afghans far exceeds that number: about 3 million.

“Despite a plethora of political, economic, and social pressures, Iran has continued to host over three million refugees,” Fazli told the conferees.

“We are of the belief that any new commitment by host countries must be in accordance with their existing capacities and national laws. Above that, the global community needs to take on new responsibilities regarding refugees through a specifically defined mechanism.”

A follow-up summit was held on Tuesday at the request of US President Barack Obama, with 45 world leaders, including Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.