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UNHCR to assist Afghan refugees intending to leave Iran

Mashhad, Khorassan Razavi Prov, March 7, IRNA-Representative of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Alessandro Bolzoni said here Monday that the body would give assistance only to Afghan refugees who intend to return to Afghanistan.

At a meeting with this northeastern province's officials, Bolzoni said that Afghan refugees would be assisted in seeking a brighter future by the international community, and stressed that Iran has played a major role so far to this end.

Bolzoni is currently here to participate in the 9th Tripartite Commission session that is to be held here on Wednesday attended by representatives of Iran, Afghanistan and the UNHCR, the three parties involved in the voluntary repatriation program for Afghan refugees.

The official called for a change in Tehran-UNHCR policies to speed up repatriation of all Afghan refugees to their homeland within the framework of the tripartite agreement signed by Iran, Afghanistan and UNHCR in 2002 as well as facilitate their voluntary repatriation after taking refuge in Iran for decades.

Bolzoni, moreover, said that the UNHCR's latest decision to stop the aid which it had been giving to Iran on the program was aimed at speeding up the process of repatriating Afghan refugees to their homeland.

According to the official, the decision was made during the last Tripartite Commission meeting on the joint voluntary repatriation program held in Geneva following the UNHCR's annual Executive Committee session in October.

The decision would play a key role in accelerating the repatriation process of displaced Afghans from Iran, Bolzoni stressed.

Meanwhile, the province's governor-genral, Mohammad-Javad Mohammadi-Zadeh, who was among those who attended the meeting, said that most Afghan refugees have been living in Khorassan Razavi province.

He warned that their continued stay in the country would cause further problems in terms of security, health and efforts to curtail drug trafficking, particularly in this northeastern province.

The official stressed that Iran was ready to launch further economic and cultural development projects in Afghanistan in line with efforts to speed up the return of Afghan refugees to their homeland.

... Payvand News - 3/8/06 ... --

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