Tehran, 21 December 2021 (TDI): United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi, visited Tehran for talks with Iranian officials. In the meeting, he presented a report on the actions of the UN Refugee Agency. The Agency’s activities cover Afghan refugees and asylum seekers.

Iranian Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian thanked the UN High Commission for its assistance regarding Afghan refugees. However, he emphasized that “the assistance provided was insignificant compared to the volume of our country’s measures in this regard”.

Afghan refugees
Humanitarian needs in Iran rise as 300,000 Afghans arrive since the Taliban takeover.

According to him, Iran provides more than 520,000 foreign students with free education. Moreover, the vaccination of Afghan asylum seekers has been considered into the health plan. As well, he added that “Iran does not have the capacity to provide more services than the current level to new asylum seekers”. Therefore, he considers that the international community should increase its attention on the conditions of the Afghan people.

Likewise, Amir Abdollahian further called on the UN Commission to be more active inside Afghanistan.

This will reduce Afghan asylum seekers by providing assistance inside the country.

Iran’s perspective on UNHCR’s work

Although the Iranian Foreign Minister praised the UN Commission for its services, they were not adequate given the scale of the refugee crisis. The Afghan refugee crisis is increasing instability in the neighboring borders, and the volume of international aid is very small.

The official also pointed out 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”.

For his part, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi thanked Iran’s extensive efforts to help new refugees from Afghanistan. He also called Iran’s attention to vaccinating a high percentage of Afghans in Iran.

As well, the resettlement of new refugees who enter Iran every day is an important step.

Grandi highlighted that the UN Refugee Agency is pursuing an increase in the UN Commission activities and financial resources inside Afghanistan. In that sense, he suggested the need to hold an international donors conference to collect financial aid.