Iran urges voluntary return of Afghan refugees to their home country
Iran says efforts should be made to lay the groundwork for the voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees from the Islamic Republic.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran’s fundamental policy on refugees is based on their voluntary return home,” said Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araqchi in Tehran on Sunday.
The diplomat made the remarks in a meeting with head of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Pe dro Commissario Afonso.
“It falls upon us and the whole world to pave the way for the refugees to return to their country, so that they will play a role in rebuilding their homeland,” Araqchi said.
He said Afghan refugees can draw on the wealth of experience and expertise they have gained in Iran to contribute to the reconstruction of their country. With the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan, said Araqchi, the country will no longer be a “breeding ground” for terrorist groups such as Taliban and Daesh.
He further highlighted that Iran has been hosting refugees from the regional countries, Afghanistan in particular, for over three decades.
“At a time when we were facing problems emanating from [former Iraqi dictator] Saddam [Hussein]’s imposed war on Iran as well as unfair sanctions, we hosted a population of several millions of Afghan refugees in our country,” said Araqchi.
He also expressed Tehran’s readiness to attend a UNHCR-organized conference on the situation of Afghan refugees to be held in the Swiss city of Geneva later this year.
The visiting UNHCR official, in turn, praised Tehran for the “generously hosting” Afghan refugees, saying measures adopted by Iran to help and support the Afghan nationals sets a brilliant example for the international community.
The UN official has traveled to Iran to see first-hand the situation of Afghan refugees in the country and exchange views with Iranian authorities on the issue.
Back in May, Director of the UNHCR Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific Daisy Dell appreciated Iran’s supportive efforts regarding the Afghan refugees. Addressing a forum in Tehran, Dell said Iran has supported Afghan asylum-seekers despite little financial assistance from the international community.
Iran has been hosting large numbers of Afghan refugees, who fled wars and conflicts in their country. In recent years, Tehran has been urging the Afghan nationals to return home voluntarily to contribute to the reconstruction of their homeland.