US Sanctions Hampering Care for Afghan Refugees in Iran: UN Envoy

US Sanctions Hampering Care for Afghan Refugees in Iran: UN Envoy

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The Iranian ambassador to the United Nations deplored the illegal US sanctions and the lack of international aid as the factors that have impaired Iran’s ability to manage the influx of Afghan refugees and drugs single-handedly.

Addressing a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in Afghanistan, held in New York on Friday, Saeed Iravani called on the international community to provide swift, sufficient, and continuous support to Iran in hosting Afghan refugees.

“Afghanistan continues to face severe economic and humanitarian crises, worsened by a significant reduction in international aid. This situation is profoundly affecting many people, particularly women and children. The Secretary-General's report (S/2024/469) estimates that 23.7 million Afghans will need humanitarian assistance in 2024,” he said.

“However, by May 15, only 16.2% of the required $3.06 billion had been raised to help 17.3 million people. This instability affects neighboring countries, highlighting the need for regional and international cooperation and engagement,” Iravani added.

“Iran remains committed to supporting Afghanistan, keeping its borders open to Afghan displaced and refugees during critical times and challenges the Afghan people faced, and hosting more than six million Afghans at an annual cost of 10 billion dollars despite sanctions. Iran has provided education to 700,000 Afghan students residing in Iran,” the envoy stated.

“Also, to promote peace and stability and strengthen the Afghan economy, Iran continues economic and commercial ties with Afghanistan, focusing on projects like Chabahar port, railways, and alternative crop cultivation to curb drug production. However, Iran faces significant challenges with illegal immigration and drug trafficking and calls for increased international support. Iran seized more than one thousand tons of Afghan narcotics in the past year, with many Iranian law enforcement officers losing their lives,” he noted.

“Due to the challenging economic conditions caused by US illegal sanctions and the lack of international aid, Iran cannot manage the influx of Afghan refugees and drugs alone, which impacts the entire region,” the envoy said.

“The Iranian public is frustrated by the lack of international support in managing the refugee and drug trafficking crises. The international community must provide swift, sufficient, and continuous support to host countries like Iran,” he added.

“Terrorist threats from within Afghanistan continue to pose significant concerns. Iran doubts the de facto authorities' ability to combat these threats effectively. Having said that, Mr. President, continuous international engagement with De facto authorities is crucial for regional peace and stability,” Iravani stated, adding, “Iran actively engages with regional initiatives aimed at fostering dialogue with Afghanistan, such as neighboring ministerial meetings and the Moscow format. Iran supports Pakistan's initiative to convene meetings of foreign ministers from Afghanistan's neighboring countries, with four rounds already held and a fifth scheduled in Ashgabat.”

“Iran advocates for addressing extremism, terrorism, and underdevelopment in Afghanistan and stands ready to play an active role in its reconstruction. Iran welcomes the next round of the Doha process scheduled for June 30 and 1st July 2024. Iran recognizes the vital role of UNAMA in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan and supports the SRSG's efforts. During the recent visit of SRSG to Tehran on 11 May 2024, discussions focused on assisting the Afghan people and strengthening peace and stability,” he underlined.

“And finally, Mr. President, I wish to reiterate that humanitarian aid to Afghanistan must remain impartial and unconditional. Any politicization of aid will harm the Afghan people. As such, frozen assets should be returned unconditionally, and sanctions should not hinder economic revitalization efforts. Western countries, having occupied Afghanistan for over 20 years, must honor their commitments to the country's reconstruction and the fight against terrorism,” Iravani concluded.

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