Tehran, Feb 20, IRNA – The fourth visit of Antonio Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to Iran, February 17-19, 2014, ended on positive points.
Guterres referred to the visit as a successful one, where he had the opportunity to convey two important messages. The first and foremost being the gratitude of UNHCR to the Government of Iran for its generous hospitality towards the refugees for over three decades. Secondly his call to the International community, UN agencies and the NGO community to seriously commit to their partnership in the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR).
The High Commissioner met with several high ranking government officials, including Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri; Minister of Interior Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, Minister of Education Ali Asghar Faani, and First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Morteza Sarmadi, a news release issued by the UNHCR said Thursday.
During the meetings, Guterres paid tribute to the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Iranian people for continuing to preserve asylum space for the refugees: “Iran is one of the most important partners of UNHCR in protecting refugees. Based on its Islamic traditions and values it has shared a lot with refugees providing them with shelter, education and work. They have thus been able to live a dignified life while waiting for the possibility to go back home.”
In particular in his meeting with minister of education, Guterres appreciated the sincere investment of the government in providing access to quality education to the refugees and ensured UNHCR’s continuous support in this field.
In these meetings he also noted special appreciation to the initiative taken by the government in the regularization of illegal migrants towards which UNHCR can help with possible expertise to support the efforts of the government.
Refugees being the main concern of the United Nations Refugee agency, the high commissioner met with some refugee representatives in person. “I met many Afghan refugee women and men, mostly very educated. Their contribution will certainly be essential in rebuilding Afghanistan. Our main objective is therefore creating conditions which will enable them to return home.”
At a time of various emergencies in the world, requiring UNHCR’s attention, the visit of Guterres to Iran further stressed the importance given to the plight of Afghan refugees in the region, a situation affecting both the Afghans and the host countries.
Guterres also met with the diplomatic community and participating agencies of the regional framework in place for Afghan refugees (SSAR).
In this meeting he himself presented the SSAR portfolio for Iran which introduces different projects empowering refugees and enabling them to attain sustainable reintegration upon return. Designed around the interlinked sectors of education, health and livelihood, in 2014 Iran will focus on the concept of “Youth empowerment”.
Noting the fact that 2014 is a key year to the stability of Afghanistan, Guterres, repeatedly urged the International community to ascertain they have a share in this matter. He said:” This portfolio project is an important contribution, let us be committed to the ‘make it happen’.
Host to the second largest refugee population in the world, the Islamic Republic of Iran holds some 882,000 registered Afghan and Iraqi refugees.
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