Measures discussed to legalize Afghan refugees living in Iran
KABUL (Pajhwok): The 19th trilateral summit addressing the grievances of Afghan refugees in Iran was held on Monday in Kabul at a time when over two million Afghan refugees still lacked legal documents in the neighboring country.
The Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations said in the two-day meeting between Afghanistan, Iran and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that issues of Afghan refugees in Iran and their repatriation and reintegration were discussed.
Sayed Hussein Alemi Balkhi, Minister of Refugees and Repatriation, said Iran had recently taken some steps to resolving problems of Afghan refugees.
He added Iran had started process of registering Afghan children without documents also for schools and all Afghan refugees would have health insurance also.
Balkhi expressed optimism that in these meetings they would agree on a practical mechanism on giving permit to the refugees without documents. Issue of voluntary repatriation, he added, would also be discussed in the meeting.
According to Balkhi, currently more than 2.5 million Afghans lived in Iran out of which around 800,000 had legal documents and 500,000 more held passports but the rest did not have any documents.
“The unity government has a different approach to address problems of refugees and their repatriation than the previous government,” he said, adding that repatriation was one of government’s top national priorities.
Mohammadi Far, Iranian representative at the summit, said his country was concerned about the fate of those refugees who travelled to Turkey via Iran and Europe and their number was on the rise.
“The same way that the Afghan government has serious focus on repatriation of Afghan refugees we expect them to also cooperate with us to legalize the presence of all Afghans in Iran,” he added.
Maya Amirtunga, the UNHCR representative for Afghanistan called the meetings important, saying they would discuss issue of Afghan refugees in Iran and their repatriation to Afghanistan.
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