520,000 foreign students in Iran study for free 

December 22, 2021 - 0:3

TEHRAN - United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi met with Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian on Monday.

He presented a report on the actions of the UN Refugee Agency, especially regarding Afghan asylum seekers to the top Iranian diplomat, according to the Iranian foreign ministry.

During the meeting, Amir Abdollahian thanked the UN High Commission for its assistance regarding Afghan refugees, but said that the assistance provided was insignificant compared to the volume of our country's measures in this regard.

The Iranian minister of foreign affairs pointed out that more than 520,000 foreign students in Iran study for free and that the vaccination of Afghan asylum seekers has been considered and taken on a par with that of Iranian citizens.

Amir Abdollahian added that Iran does not have the capacity to provide more services than the current level to new asylum seekers, and that the international community must pay special attention to the living conditions of the Afghan people.

He praised the UN Commission for its services, but said that they were inadequate given the scale of the refugee crisis. Amir Abdollahian added that the crisis of Afghan refugees' influx towards neighboring borders is increasingly large but the volume of international aid is very small.

The Iranian foreign minister further called on the UN Commission to be more active inside Afghanistan and to help reduce asylum seekers from Afghanistan by providing assistance inside the country.

Amir Abdollahian also stressed that European countries must pay their fair share in this regard, and while the presence of several thousand refugees on the European borders turns into a crisis, they should not expect help from Iran forever and just pay lip service with kind words.

The Iranian foreign minister also suggested that the UN High Commission and the UN secretary-general put holding an international fundraising conference for the people of Afghanistan on their agenda.

During the meeting, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi also praised Iran's extensive efforts to help new refugees from Afghanistan. He called Iran's attention to vaccinating a high percentage of Afghans in Iran and the resettlement of new refugees who enter Iran every day a humane and important step, adding that: We are pursuing an increase in the UN Commission activities and financial resources inside Afghanistan.

Grandi called the idea of holding an international conference to collect aid for the people of Afghanistan noteworthy.

Grandi arrived in Tehran on December 17 on a 3-day mission to meet with government counterparts to advocate for access to safety for newly arriving asylum-seekers from Afghanistan, as well as to discuss additional support needed to help Iran maintain its generous refugee-inclusive services.

He met with Iran’s Health Minister Bahram Einollahi on Monday. Grandi thanked Einollahi for including Afghan refugees in Iran’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

Iran is a major refugee-hosting country. Its policies and services are inclusive. UNHCR will continue to help mobilize vaccines and other resources against the pandemic, he stated.

Facing new arrivals from Afghanistan, Iran needs more support for all the Afghans it hosts, including long-term refugees, he added.

For his part, Einollahi said that Iran makes no difference in terms of providing services to refugees and Iranian nationals.

“We have always tried to provide free health services to the refugees; For example, all infected ones were admitted to medical centers and received treatment free of charge,” he added.

Before receiving any help from international organizations, we used our vaccine resources to inoculate all Afghan citizens for free, he also noted.

The UN official also met with Iran’s Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi.

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