Vienna, Oct 10, IRNA-Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Pour- Mohammadi in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday criticized the inadequate international assistance for reconstruction and development that reaches Afghanistan.
Pour-Mohammadi, who arrived in Geneva earlier Monday upon an invitation of UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, was addressing the opening ceremony for the 11th session of a UN commission for voluntary return of Afghan refugees.
He said inadequate international aid has led to a "worrying downward trend in repatriation of Afghan refugees to their homeland." He said that one million Afghan refugees have not yet signed up to return to their country besides 950,000 Afghans who manage to stay in Iran illegally, adding that "of the over 599,000 Afghan refugees who have entered Iran with proper documentation, some one- third of them have settled in Iran (illegally) and have not returned to Afghanistan."
The minister cited terrorism, production of illicit drugs and human trafficking as among the main concerns in Afghanistan, and called on the international community to raise their contributions to help fight these evils.
In speeches delivered during the session, ambassadors of Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Japan and Finland expressed agreement with the Iranian official's views and their determination to come up to their financial commitments to help settle the Afghan refugee problem and speed up the country's reconstruction.
At the end of the session, Pour-Mohammadi and Guterres signed documents evidencing an agreement to carry out five projects valued at USD 2 million involving training of staff needed in various reconstruction activities in the country.
In accordance with the agreement, Iran's Ministers of Education and Health are to provide technical and professional training to Afghan refugees residing in Iran for one year.
Guterres praised Iran's decisive role in restoring stability to Afghanistan and Iraq.
Currently, some three million Afghan refugees are living in Iran but only 900,000 of them have the necessary residence permit.
Repatriation of Afghan refugees started four years ago, one year after the fall of Taliban regime in Afghanistan, in accordance with a tripartite agreement concluded between Iran, Afghanistan and the UNHCR.
Some 1.4 million Afghan refugees have returned to their homeland from Iran during the said period.
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