August 11, 2022

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UNHCR holds World Refugee Day in Iran for first time since COVID-19

TEHRAN – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, marked World Refugee Day on Wednesday with a series of events across the Islamic Republic of Iran, under the theme of “Whoever, Wherever, Whenever, everyone has the right to seek safety”.

For the first time in two years since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNHCR and the Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants Affairs (BAFIA) of the Ministry of Interior, brought together refugees, host communities, government officials, members of the diplomatic community, and humanitarian and development partners to celebrate the courage, talent, and resilience of millions of Afghans exiled in the country.

In an event held in Tehran, UNHCR’s Officer in Charge, Inna Gladkova, appreciated Iran for generously hosting Afghans for over four decades and stressed the need to mobilize even more international support for Iran, at a time when wars and conflicts are causing the highest levels of forced displacement ever recorded in history.

UNHCR’s Officer in Charge, Inna Gladkova, appreciated Iran for generously hosting Afghans for over four decades and stressed the need to mobilize even more international support for the country. Rezadoust, the Director-General of BAFIA, Pirkoohi, Director-General of International Affairs, Environment and Sustainable Development Department of the Ministry of Foreign affairs, and other government officials also attended.

Other events in Khorasan Razavi, Fars, Isfahan, and Kerman provinces included colorful refugee-focused events, photo exhibitions, theatre performances, refugee craft bazaars, and drawing competitions.

As one of the world’s leading refugee-hosting countries, Iran has shown incredible generosity towards refugees by allowing them access to health, education, and livelihood opportunities – essential building blocks to becoming independent and self-sufficient. Despite the growing economic challenges, the Government of Iran has continued to invest in critical services for refugees and has maintained its inclusive policies.

UNHCR welcomes the ongoing headcount exercise by the Government of Iran to record all undocumented Afghans and newly arrived asylum-seekers in the country. This is a positive step to provide international protection, including documentation, to all those who may need it. A solid asylum system that can provide accurate data about persons of concern, will also allow for more international support for Iran.

A photography exhibition showcasing Iran’s long history of hosting refugees, starting from the 16th century with Armenians to this date, was one of the main features of the event. A refugee handicraft bazaar also attracted large numbers of people to appreciate Afghan crafts, cuisine, and music at the landmark Milad Tower.

 Refugees in Iran

As the number one destination for Afghan refugees, Iran alone, more than any other European or Western country in times of crisis, has opened its arms to accept asylum seekers from its eastern neighbor.

The number of Afghan immigrants living in Iran has exceeded four million. After entering Iran, Afghan immigrants had the highest presence in the provinces of Khorasan Razavi, South Khorasan, and Sistan-Baluchestan.

President Ebrahim Raisi has said despite the fact that the Europeans have made many claims about supporting the Afghans, but have not provided them with any assistance, contrary to their comments, today more than four million Afghans are guests of the Islamic Republic.

In light of the pandemic, all refugees, even those undocumented, benefited from access to free primary health services and free COVID-19-related testing, treatment, and hospitalization, just like Iranian nationals.

The same happened for the vaccination when the country has generously considered refugees for vaccination against coronavirus.

António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, has praised Iran’s generosity which – for decades – has hosted millions of Afghans in need.

I will never forget the generosity of countries like Pakistan and Iran, which – for decades – have hosted millions of Afghans in need,” Guterres said in a statement released on January 26 to the Security Council on Afghanistan.


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