UN global forum lauds Iran for hosting refugees

December 18, 2019 - 19:9

TEHRAN – The United Nations Global Refugee Forum appreciated Iran’s efforts to provide services to Afghan refugees.

The first day of the Forum, which was held in Geneva on December 16-18, was dedicated to the issue of Afghan refugees, during which Iran was lauded for playing host to Afghan refugees over the past 40 years.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, representatives of Japan, China, Germany, the European Union, Denmark, and the United Kingdom, welcomed Iran's services to Afghan refugees, especially in the areas of education and health. 

The countries called for the responsibility of other members of the international community to support Afghan refugees and reduce the burden on Iran and Pakistan.

The first-ever Global Refugee Forum brought together refugees, heads of state and government, UN leaders, international institutions, development organizations, business leaders and civil society representatives, among others. UNHCR co-hosted the Forum together with Switzerland, and it was co-convened by Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Germany, Pakistan, and Turkey.

The three-day Forum aimed to generate new approaches and long-term commitments from a variety of actors to help refugees and the communities in which they live.

Support platform for Afghan refugees

On the margins of the Forum, the governments of Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan came together with UNHCR to launch a new Support Platform for the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR). Since 2012, the SSAR has facilitated dialogue, consensus-building, and partnerships for the Afghan refugee situation. 

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gholam Hossein Dehghani said he hoped the platform would encourage investments in workable and practical approaches to the Afghan refugee situation. “The SSAR support platform is a test case for the Global Compact on Refugees, as now it is high time for the international community to bring a balance and shoulder its responsibility, as Iran has been doing a lot,” he added.

He went on to say that over the past four decades, Iran has provided quality education and health services to Afghan refugees, emphasizing the need for the international community to play a more effective role in hosting Afghan refugees and developing a practical roadmap for the return of refugees.

Pointing out that Iran is not only deprived of international aid, it has also been subjected to unilateral sanctions that have seriously affected support for the displaced, but he also added that it should not be expected that refugee hosts provide conditions for the displaced beyond international legal norms.

Stating that refugee support is a global responsibility but only a few developing countries are burdened with that, he called on the international community to discover the best solution to the displaced people such as voluntary return to their countries.

Over 70m people displaced by war

Worldwide, over 70 million people are displaced by war, conflict, and persecution. More than 25 million of them are refugees, having fled across international borders and unable to return to their homes.

In Asia, some 9.5 million people – including refugees, internally displaced people (IDPs) stateless people – are in critical need of the solidarity, enhanced responsibility-sharing and practical commitments towards solutions being stimulated by the Forum.

Afghans remain the largest and longest displaced refugee population in the region. Today, four decades since their initial displacement, there are over 2.7 million registered Afghan refugees, the vast majority of whom have been hosted by Iran and Pakistan. Iran currently has some one million registered refugees from Afghanistan. In addition, over two million Afghans are estimated to live in Iran either without documentation or on national passports.