Iran FM, UNHCR discuss humanitarian situation in Afghanistan

September 21, 2021 - 19:12

TEHRAN - Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi have met to discuss the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban takeover of Kabul.

The Iranian foreign ministry said in a statement that the two sides highlighted the importance of holding closer consultations between the two sides and discussed different dimensions of bilateral ties.

In the meeting, the top Iranian diplomat underscored the necessity of ameliorating the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing Afghan people being forced from their homes inside the country and [seeing] their exodus to neighboring countries,” said Abdollahian.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has hosted its Afghan brothers and sisters for four decades now, and has tried to be a good host throughout all these years despite sanctions and economic pressure, and recently the coronavirus pandemic” he added.

“But it is essential that international organizations more actively discharge their responsibilities with regards to the humanitarian situation in this country in order to prevent more noble Afghan people from being displaced,” said the Iranian foreign minister.

The top UN official, in turn, expressed his gratitude to Iran for generously hosting Afghan migrants.

He elaborated on the latest humanitarian situation and challenges in Afghanistan and presented a report on his trip to the country.

He expounded on the UNHCR’s programs and reaffirmed its commitment to refugees, namely Afghan migrants.

Iran has called on the Taliban to form an inclusive government after they toppled the previous government in Kabul. Iran, which hosts about 4 million Afghan refugees, underlined that forming an inclusive government is the only way to bring about peace and stability in the war-torn country. 

Iranian President Ayatollah Seyed Ebrahim Raisi has discussed the situation in Afghanistan during his recent visit to Tajikistan where he took part in a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). 

On the sidelines of this summit, Ayatollah Raisi met with many foreign leaders. The Afghanistan issue was on the agenda. 

Ayatollah Raisi and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan underlined the need for the formation of an inclusive government in Afghanistan during a meeting on the fringes of the SCO summit on Thursday afternoon.

“We should help form a government in Afghanistan that includes all ethnic groups, and groups that arise from the will of the people of this country. The key to solving Afghanistan's problems is to form an inclusive government and prevent foreign interference in the country's affairs,” the Iranian president said.  

The meeting between the two senior officials took place as Raisi accepted a request by Prime Minister Khan to hold a joint meeting on the developments in Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s leader also said a safe and secure Afghanistan will benefit all countries in the region and the world at large.

Khan warned if an inclusive government is not formed in Afghanistan, the problems in the country would exacerbate, and Pakistan and Iran would suffer more than any other country. The meeting took place at the residence of the Iranian president.

“Iran and Pakistan must work closely and interact with each other for Afghanistan to successfully pass the stage of state-building and formation of an inclusive government,” Imran Khan noted.

At the meeting, President Raisi stressed that the U.S. presence in Afghanistan resulted in nothing but destruction and displacement of the Afghan people.

“The 20-year history of U.S. and Western forces in Afghanistan has had no benefit other than destruction, displacement and killing of more than 35,000 Afghan children and thousands of men and women,” Raisi lamented.

During the meeting, Ayatollah Raisi also described the relationship between the two countries goes beyond neighborliness due to historical and cultural commonalities.

“We should not allow the sedition and mischief of foreigners to affect these good relations,” the Iranian president emphasized.

The Iranian president reiterated the same message during a meeting with Shaukat Mirzayev on the sidelines of the SCO meeting.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran supports the formation of an inclusive government with the participation of all groups and ethnic groups in Afghanistan, which will lead to the restoration of peace and stability in this country,” Raisi insisted.

Both Iran and Tajikistan share common borders with Afghanistan which has come under the renewed control of the Taliban after 20 years.

Iran has called for a unanimous position on the formation of an all-inclusive government in Afghanistan. The Iranian foreign minister reiterated this message in a speech at a foreign ministerial meeting of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries.

In the virtual meeting held on September 10, the top Iranian diplomat made comments about the latest developments in Afghanistan.

At the beginning, the foreign minister expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to hold consultations with his counterparts on Afghanistan, saying the Islamic Republic of Iran is seriously and closely watching the course of events in Afghanistan.

He expressed hope that the meeting of Afghanistan’s neighbors will send a strong and unanimous message to establish an all-inclusive government which brings together representatives from all Afghan groups, fight terrorism, combat drug smuggling and sends humanitarian aid, thus rekindling hope among Afghan people.

“By reaching agreement with the respected foreign ministers, I hope we will be able to leave open border crossings with neighboring countries for trade and sending humanitarian aid,” said Abdollahian.

The top diplomat said Tehran stands ready to host the next meeting of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries in person, too.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran keeps pursuing the establishment of a broad-based government with the presence of all Afghan groups, and we hope the Taliban will make good on their commitments,” he noted.

“Experience shows that the formation of a non-inclusive government has not helped improve stability, tranquility and the situation in Afghanistan through history; so, we expected the foreign ministers to announce, with one voice, the significance of the establishment of an all-inclusive government which brings together all groups,” the top Iranian diplomat said.

Abdollahian stressed that Iran’s top propriety is to see peace, stability and tranquility established following the formation of a broad-based government in Afghanistan.

“The United States is the root cause of the anarchy in Afghanistan over the past two decades,” he said.

“They (the U.S.) should be held accountable to Afghan people, the region and the world public opinion as to why the smuggling and exports of narcotics multiplied during their presence in, and occupation of Afghanistan, why terrorism grew in Afghanistan, why the Americans had no success in establishing new structures and building a government, why the presence of the Americans, who claim to have spent $ 2.6 trillion, had no result other than poverty, anarchy and insecurity in Afghanistan? Of course, this wrong U.S. policy had adverse consequences for neighboring countries as well,” he noted.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran emphasizes that war should be superseded by dialogue in Afghanistan, and that using military means rather than dialogue would arouse concern among Afghan people,” Abdollahian explained.

He said Iran is hosting some 4 million “Afghan brothers and sisters” and has prioritized their vaccination against COVID-19 despite Washington’s cruel sanctions and will spare no support for Afghan people,” he said.

The top diplomat said the outcome of the present foreign ministerial meeting should be a strong message for Afghan people, who have endured pain and suffering.

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