UN Envoy Applauds Iran for Hosting Large Number of Refugees
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - UN resident coordinator in Iran appreciated the measures adopted by the Islamic Republic in hosting foreign nationals, saying Iran is the world’s second biggest country accepting foreign refugees.
In his visit to the Tasnim News Agency office in Tehran, Garry Lewis admired Iran for hosting a large population of refugees over the past three decades, the bulk of which have flocked into the country from neighboring Afghanistan.
Preceded by Pakistan, Iran is the second country in the world that accepts the highest number of refugees, Lewis announced.
“Iran has very well hosted the refugees over the past three decades,” the UN coordinator said.
Out of the total 880,000 registered refugees in Iran, Lewis explained, 840,000 are Afghans and the rest come from Iraq.
He also pointed to the living conditions of the foreign nationals in Iran, saying 97 percent of the refugees reside in the cities, while only 3 percent are located in the refugee camps.
The high rate of living in cities is a sign that Iran has taken valuable measures for the refugees’ health and occupation, Lewis noted.
The UN representative said some 10,000 Afghan refugees return to their country from Iran each year, stressing that stability should prevail in Afghanistan so that more Afghans would return home of their own volition.
In relevant comments in November 2013, Asadollah Amiri, cultural attaché of Afghanistan embassy in Tehran, appreciated Iran’s granting of citizenship right to Afghan elites and provision of higher education facilities for Afghans residing in Iran.
“Granting citizenship rights to immigrant Afghan elites was a very effective move in bilateral cultural relations, but I believe more than being concerned about changing the documents and the ID cards and granting rights to Afghan immigrants, we should try to boost cultural interactions and raise public awareness about our common culture and heritage," the Afghan diplomat said at the time.
Iran has hosted Afghan refugees since the late 1970s following the occupation of their country by the Soviet Union troops. Although many of those refugees have returned to their country voluntarily, there are still hundreds of thousands of documented and undocumented Afghans in Iran.