Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Office in Iran Sivanka Dhanapala praised Iran’s performance in hosting and aiding foreign refugees, especially the Afghans.
“Iran’s services to refugees have set an example for other countries,” Dhanapala said, addressing a conference on cultural and social issues of Afghan refugees in Qom province, Central Iran, on Thursday.
“In Iranian schools, we are witnessing the friendly treatment of refugees by Iranian students,” he added.
Iran has been a generous host to more than 2 million Afghan refugees for two decades with little help from the international community.
Tehran has called on the international community to strengthen support for Iran to help it host the Afghan refugees and provide repatriation support for them.
Voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees from Iran has slowed in recent years in the face of poor security and economic conditions in Afghanistan, which Tehran blames on the US-led invasion of the country in 2001.
The office of the UNHCR was established by the UN General Assembly in 1950.
According to the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, the agency is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees.
UNHCR first opened an office in Iran in 1984 and expanded its presence with the massive influx of Iraqi refugees following the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and the start of Afghans’ mass return movement to Afghanistan in 1992.
Today UNHCR has its Central office representation in Tehran, plus three suboffices in Mashhad, Kerman and Ahwaz.