Feb 17, 2020, 1:14 PM
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UN chief, UNHCR praise Iran for hosting Afghan refugees

Islamabad, Feb 17, IRNA -- United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi have praised the Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan for hosting millions of Afghan refugees for past four decades.

They were speaking at a two-day International Conference also participated by Iran on 40 years of hosting Afghan refugees in Islamabad on Monday. 

They noted that Iran has taken various initiatives for the uplift of Afghan refugees with its own resources despite economic pressures.

The conference is jointly organized by the government of Pakistan and UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and is being attended by ministers and senior officials from around 20 countries, who have been supporting the Afghan refugees across the globe.

Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan expressing his views on the occasion said we have extended the best ever support to the Afghan peace process. He said we need peace in Afghanistan for development and prosperity of internally displaced people.

He said development is only possible through trade and friendly relations, which will also help us to improve our relations with Central Asian states.

The Prime Minister said Pakistan is celebrating 40 years of hosting refugees. He said despite economic challenges, the host Pakistan kept wonderful relations with Afghan refugees.

The Prime Minister said that Islamophobia came after 9/11 because terrorism and Islam was equated, which led to sufferings of refugees across the world. He said every society and religion has every type of people.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in his remarks underlined the need for renewed commitment to peace in Afghanistan for successful repatriation of Afghan refugees.

He said we are here to serve Afghan people who deserve peace and stability and repatriation with safety and dignity.

He said Iran and Pakistan are the top countries in hosting refugees. He said despite many challenges Iran and Pakistan have set a good example.

The UN Secretary General said we must recognize that the international support has been minimal as compared to national contribution. He said time has come for international community to act and deliver with responsibility sharing.

Addressing the conference UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said that for the last 40 years, the people of Iran and Pakistan have stood by the Afghan neighbors. He added that Iran and Pakistan have been hosting 90 percent population of Afghan refugees.

He said that Iran's solidarity to hosting refugees is admirable. He lauded the initiatives taken by Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan for the refugees.

The official added Iran and Pakistan have absorbed Afghan refugees in their societies.

However, he said, generosity does not come without cost, but it has impacts on local economy, infrastructure and security.

Filippo Grandi noted that Iran has become a global example in hosting Afghan refugees. He added Iran has formed various schemes for better education and health of Afghan refugees which is highly commendable. He added that Iran has done all this with its own resources despite economic pressures.

The High Commissioner said international support to the Afghan refugees remained insufficient. He appealed to donors to lend support for development in Afghanistan.

Speaking on the occasion, Afghan Second Vice President Danish Sarwar said he is thankful to Iran and Pakistan for hosting Afghan refugees for 40 years.

He said Pakistan has played the role of a brotherly country by hosting millions of Afghan refugees. He said we cannot forget as to how Pakistan and Iran opened their doors for Afghan refugees.

The Afghan Second Vice President said his government wants repatriation of Afghan refugees; however, for that, end of the war is imperative.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on the occasion said Pakistan is pursuing a policy of return of Afghan refugees with dignity, safety and honor.

The Minister said peace and stability is indispensable and Pakistan would continue supporting Afghan owned and Afghan led peace process.

He said every refugee is hoping that peace will restore leading to repatriation.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan hosted five million Afghan refugees and today three million registered and unregistered Afghan refugees are residing in Pakistan.

The Foreign Minister urged the world to join hands with Pakistan to provide basic needs to Afghan refugees and enable them to live a dignified life.

He said international cooperation is required more than ever before. Shah Mahmood Qureshi said caring should be a shared responsibility.

He said Afghan refugees are expecting the world to rebuild their country after restoration of peace there.

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