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Iran hosts about 3 million refugees, mostly from Afghanistan

Tehran, April 19, IRNA - Iran is wary of heavy burden illegal immigrants imposed on national budget as Interior Minister Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi on Saturday put the figure of refugees in Iran at three million. Pour-Mohammadi He said that two million immigrants have entered the country illegally.

"Since three decades ago, Iran has seriously been affected by influx of refugees and the trend of their illegal entry to the country has not decreased despite all preventive measures taken by the Iranian officials," Pour-Mohammadi said on the sidelines of a conference on non-conventional immigration.

He referred to the issue of Afghan occupation by the US forces and their presence in that country, saying a close look at the situation of Afghan people would show that the occupying countries and other international bodies have failed to fulfill their commitments in Afghanistan so far.

Pour-Mohammadi added that the Afghan people were suffering from lack of proper security, economic, health and welfare conditions.

Meanwhile, another senior official also present in the conference, told reporters that about 91 percent of the refugees in Iran have flooded into the country from Afghanistan.

Director-General of Foreign Ministry's department for foreign nationals and refugees affairs, Taqi Qaemi, said Iran had proposals for resolving the problem of illegal immigration but the related international organizations have yet to support Iran in this respect.

Confirming the figure of three million refugees in Iran, the official said non conventional immigration inflicted heavy damages on Iranians including the problem of illegal marriages, unattended children and the subsequently negative social, political, security and economic impacts and other illegal activities as well including drug, human and weapons trafficking.

He said that Iran was hosting 220,000 pre-university and 15,000 university students.

Elsewhere in his address, Qaemi said, "If you estimate that the country must spend only two dollars in subsidies for each refugee per day, you will reach the figure of six million dollars per day which is the least possible burden on Iran.

Qaemi said that illegal immigrants face culpability in most of world countries.

"In many countries, illegal immigrants would face a six-months jail sentence as well as a 11,000-dollar fine after being arrested by police.

However, he added that Iran's Islamic values and principles would not let the country to adopt punitive measures for illegal immigrant prevention.

... Payvand News - 04/19/08 ... --

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