Iran Urges Int’l Assistance in Hosting Afghan Refugees

Iran Urges Int’l Assistance in Hosting Afghan Refugees

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Highlighting the burden of refugees that Iran has borne single-handedly as a result of the US’ policies and militancy in the region, the Iranian foreign minister urged the international bodies to help Afghanistan develop necessary infrastructures to attract Afghan refugees back.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian delivered a speech to the Global Refugee Forum, held in Geneva on Wednesday.

“The key question concerning the refugee problem has been why just a few countries must take responsibility for most of the world’s refugees? The Global Refugee Forum was established to rally global solidarity in practice and mobilize necessary resources to assist the major refugee-hosting countries. Nevertheless, no temporary solution is durable. The UNHCR and the international community should redouble their efforts to facilitate and expedite repatriation of refugees to their home countries,” he said in the speech.

“As you all know, it is now more than 45 years that Iran has been hosting the most protracted refugee crises in the world, turning my country into the largest refugee hosting country worldwide following the latest political turmoil in neighboring Afghanistan in 2021,” Amirabdollahian noted.

“Frequent unlawful military interventions and other interferences by outside powers in our vicinity, have caused pandemic instability, insecurity and underdevelopment that in turn have led to the influx of refugees across the region,” he deplored.

“In fact the Islamic Republic of Iran has had to shoulder the burden inflicted upon the region as the result of irresponsible coercive policies and militancy of the United States and its allies in our region,” the foreign minister added, stating, “Our approach toward refugees is one of humanitarian and human solidarity. The Iranian people have generously shared their limited resources with huge Afghan refugee populations despite all the odds much of which originate from the United States’ unlawful and inhuman sanctions. We have tried our best, based on our human-centered national values and Islamic precepts, to provide refugees in Iran with basic living standards, healthcare and education.”

“All Afghan children of school age are eligible, equal to their Iranian peers, to attend primary and secondary school regardless of their documentation status. Right now, more than 700,000 refugee children are registered in public schools across the country. Additional training courses and classes are provided for Afghan adults as part of Literacy Promotion Movement to educate the dropout refugees. Many Afghans are studying in Iranian universities and colleges, including under available governmental supports and scholarships,” he said.

“Tens of thousands of vulnerable Afghan refugees enjoy healthcare insurance and free medical services are provided for persons with special and hard to cure illnesses. Afghan refugees also receive free vaccination against certain diseases, including COVID-19,” Amirabdollahian noted.

“It is simply not fair nor is it feasible for a single country to host the largest and most protracted refugee crises on its own. The principle of ‘burden and responsibility sharing’ requires a more equitable division of diverse costs of refugee-hosting among a greater number of States. This is unfortunately not the case for my country as we face an ever increasing pressure on our limited national resources to help the influx of Afghan refugees. This is an unprecedented challenge as our public infrastructure in healthcare system, basic education, employment, energy and water sectors are under immense pressure due to the huge number of refugees,” the Iranian foreign minister underlined.

“While we appreciate the UNHCR’s commitment and efforts to help Afghan refugees in Iran, the realities on the ground indicate that only one percent of the costs incurred by a huge population of more than 5 million refugees are covered by UNHCR’s contribution,” he added.

“I should underline that Iran’s outstanding sacrifice in hosting the largest refugee population is unparalleled since my nation is, at the same time, under the most brutal economic sanctions by the United States. Unilateral coercive measures, as unlawful and inhuman as they are, have also badly limited the humanitarian space by extremely impacting the aid agencies’ capacity to assist the people in need, including the refugee populations, residing in the targeted States.

I also have to make it clear that there is absolutely no humanitarian exception to Iran sanctions as the United States hypocritically claims. The United states’ economic sanctions are basically calibrated to indiscriminately hit the most vulnerable people in the targeted countries,” he said.

“Under these circumstances Iran could not be expected to keep sacrificing and serving this huge refugee population alone many of whom are willing to take refuge in European countries.

The plight of Afghan refugees could not be resolved without their return to their home country. The United Nations, neighboring States, donor countries, UNHCR and other concerned actors should work together to assist Afghanistan develop necessary economic and political and security infrastructure to attract Afghan refugees back into their country.  The primary responsibility of Afghan ruling authorities cannot be overemphasized in this respect,” he added.

Turning to the crisis in Gaza, Amirabdollahian said, “No man or woman of right conscience can afford to keep silence over the tragic humanitarian situation in Gaza strip and the whole occupied land of Palestine while innocent people are indiscriminately slaughtered and their residential buildings are bombed with the intend to forcibly move them out of their home land.

The Israeli occupying regime is creating another influx of refugees to be added to the already more than 7 million Palestinians who are living across the globe as refugees.”

“Forced displacement is both a serious human rights violation and a grave breach of IHL. The Israeli carpet bombing of Gaza strip during the past 70 days as part of its widespread and systematic attack against the Palestinian civilian population, is evidently aimed at forcible deportation and transfer of Palestinians from their lands and as such constitute war crime as well as crime against humanity. The perpetrators along with their supporters and enablers, particularly the United States and UK, must be held accountable for the atrocity crimes committed in occupied Palestine,” the Iranian top diplomat stated.

“A full scale new refugee crises is unfolding before our eyes in a most vicious manner. More than 20,000 innocent people, the majority of them small kids and women, have been massacred during the past 2 months with UNSC being made paralyzed by the United States to do any move to stop the Israeli cruelty. The only way to avert this new refugee crisis is to stop the genocidal invasion of Gaza, prevent the forced transfer of Gaza residents and open Rafah crossing for humanitarian aid,” he underscored.

“After all, the only durable and fair solution for the Palestinian refugee problem is to end occupation and secure the Palestinian people’s right of self-determination in their native land of Palestine,” Amirabdollahian concluded.

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