US illegal actions creating hurdles in hosting refugees, Iranian official says

Islamabad, Feb 17, IRNA -- Head of Iranian delegation at a conference in Pakistan has said that inhuman and illegal actions of the US have made it difficult for the host countries to facilitate refugees.

Director-General of the Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants Affairs of Iran’s Ministry of Interior Mahdi Mahmoudi was speaking at a two-day International Conference on 40 years of hosting Afghan refugees in Islamabad on Monday. 
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.

Expressing his views, Mahdi Mahmoudi said that Iran has been hosting millions of Afghan refugees for past four decades without any discrimination despite the eight years of imposed war and barbaric economic sanctions of the US.

He said that Iran has provided best education, health services, vocational training programs and employment opportunities for Afghan refugees despite minimal foreign assistance.

He went on to say that Iran is currently providing education to Afghan refugees in 200 disciplines and have also issued them identity cards to facilitate them at the maximum level.

The official added that currently 481,700 Afghan refugees are getting free of cost education in then Iranian institutions as per directions of Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

Mahdi Mahmoudi said that Iran has facilitated Afghan refugees beyond its resources because of which the country faced economic, social and security challenges.

"We appreciate the donor countries' assistance, as well as the UNHCR's considerable efforts to meet the needs of refugees, but they are minimal in the current situation due to coercive measures of the US against Iran," he added.

He added that illegal actions and economic sanctions of the US have made it difficult for "us to facilitate refugees".

The official said hosting of refugees is a shared responsibility and should not be limited to some countries.

Head of Iranian delegation stated that voluntary repatriation of the refugees should be at the top priority and the Islamic Republic fully supports that.

He stressed the need for basic infrastructure building in Afghanistan which can attract the refugees and provide them respectable livelihood.

Mahdi Mahmoudi in his speech praised the government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for hosting the summit, adding that such meetings could help in finding practical solutions to the problems of refugees, especially Afghan refugees, in a positive and productive way.

272**2050

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