“In spite of the existing financial and economic problems, the Russian government has the opportunity to support the Afghan children in Iran. These means will contribute to the considerable efforts that the Iranian authorities are making to accommodate Afghan refugees,” said Mr. Levan Dzhagaryan, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Russian Federation’s donation of US$ 2.6 million was made to the UN Children’s Fund – UNICEF for the implementation of the project entitled “Social Protection and Services for Afghan Children in the Islamic Republic of Iran”.
To mark this contribution, a signing ceremony took place on 22 December, 2014 in the historical building of the Russian Embassy in Tehran. The Russian Ambassador, H.E. Mr. Levan Dzhagaryan, UNICEF Representative to Iran, Mr. Ezio Gianni Murzi, as well as the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Gary Lewis, and representatives from UN High Commissionaire for Refugees – UNHCR Iran – a key partner in this project were present.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mr. Murzi said “I would like to sincerely thank the Government of the Russian Federation for its very generous contribution – a contribution that will provide additional financial support to the already generous programmes run by the Iranian authorities.”
The UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Gary Lewis also delivered remarks during this ceremony. “A contribution of this type cannot be underestimated in terms of its importance to the UN family. Such funding will assist us to support our Iranian counterparts to build skills and capacities which translate into their providing better services especially to vulnerable children,” said Mr. Lewis. He added, “The UN community in Iran, and in particular UNICEF, are proud to share common goals with such committed partners as our supporters from Russia.”
The beneficiaries to this project are vulnerable Afghan children who are out of school, and at risk or exposed to risky lifestyles such as drug use. The project’s interventions include: education, HIV prevention and building institutional capacities. This extra budgetary funding will financially support national partners and institutions such as the Bureau of Aliens and Foreign Immigrants Affairs of the Ministry of Interior (BAFIA), Ministry of Education, Ministry of Cooperatives, Labour and Social Welfare, and the Iranian Red Crescent Society.
The Islamic Republic of Iran hosts one of the largest protracted refugee populations, and the single largest urban refugee population in the world. According to population figures shared in October 2011 by BAFIA, the total number of registered Afghan refugees in Iran is 840,158. Since the beginning of the refugee influx to Iran, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has accommodated education for school-age refugee children along different lines, including public schools. The Government has succeeded in providing education to more than 350,000 Afghan children in public schools, accommodating more than 25,000 Afghans in Iranian universities. As a result, the literacy rate of the Afghan population has risen from 7% to 70%.
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