Displaced Afghans had already been “forgotten” by the international community before they began arriving in Europe en masse last year, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said on Saturday in Iran.
Grandi, who on Friday began his first regional tour as UN High Commissioner ahead of World Refugee Day today, said his trip was focused on Afghan refugees.
“I decided that this year, my first year as High Commissioner, I would use that opportunity to highlight the unresolved plight of Afghan refugees,” he said in a joint press conference with Iranian Deputy Minister of the Interior Hossein Zolfaghari.
Photo: AFP / TASNIM NEWS
“Afghan refugees unfortunately have been forgotten by the international community,” said Grandi, who is to mark World Refugee Day in Afghanistan. “It is only when they started arriving in Europe together with many other refugees that the international community suddenly remembered.”
A record 1.25 million Syrian, Iraqi, Afghan and other refugees and migrants have entered Europe since January last year.
Iran hosts more than 3 million Afghan immigrants, 1 million of them legally.
Grandi urged the international community to increase their support for Tehran’s refugee protection programs because “unless we help refugees” more they will look elsewhere.
“We have seen this happening last year with hundreds of thousands of Afghans moving toward Europe,” he said. “This is dangerous for them and destabilizing for everybody.”
Grandi called on the world community to help stabilize Afghanistan so more refugees choose to return since “voluntary repatriation has gone down to very few numbers.”
He called the services Iran offers refugees “of very high quality compared to what we see in most countries in the world.”
Last year, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a decree allowing all Afghan children to be allowed into schools in the Islamic republic.
It was “one of the most important gestures that any country has expressed for refugees anywhere in the world in the past few years,” Grandi said.
Zolfaghari told reporters that Iran has borne great costs to prevent illegal immigration to other countries, especially to Europe.
“In the past year, we have repatriated 753,000 people who had entered Iran illegally to their home countries and paid great costs in this regard,” he said.
The solution to the refugee crisis is “to eradicate insecurity and poverty” in those countries, he added.
The Polish Supreme Court on Friday quashed a lower court’s green light for the extradition of a businessman to China for alleged fraud, a charge he has denied, saying that he is being targeted for supporting Falun Gong. Polish authorities took Chinese-born Swedish citizen Li Zhihui, now 53, into custody in 2019 on an international warrant issued by China for alleged non-payment in a business deal, Krzysztof Kitajgrodzki, his Polish lawyer, told reporters. Following the Supreme Court ruling, the case would return to a lower appellate court for review. Kitajgrodzki told reporters that it was still not a given that his client
The Palauan president-elect has vowed to stand up to Chinese “bullying” in the Pacific, saying that the archipelago nation is set to stand by its alliances with “true friends,” Taiwan and the US. Surangel Whipps Jr, 52, a supermarket owner and two-time senator from a prominent Palauan family, is to be sworn in as the new president tomorrow, succeeding his brother-in-law, Tommy Remengesau Jr. In a forthright interview, Whipps said that the US had demonstrated over the years that it was a reliable friend of Palau, most recently shown by its delivery of 6,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. “It’s important for
DELIVERING HOPE: The Japanese PM pledged to push ahead with plans to stage the Games, despite polls showing about 80% think they will not or should not happen Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga yesterday vowed to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control and hold the already postponed Olympic Games this summer with ample protection. In a speech opening a new session of parliament, Suga said that his government would revise laws to make disease prevention measures enforceable with penalties and compensation. Early in the pandemic, Japan was able to keep its caseload manageable with nonbinding requests for businesses to close or operate with social distancing, and for people to stay at home, but recent weeks have seen several highs in new cases per day, in part blamed on eased attitudes
On Sunday last week, in a nondescript building in the Indian city of Gwalior, 322km south of Delhi, a large crowd of men gathered. Most wore bright saffron hats and scarves, a color evoking Hindu nationalism, and many held strands of flowers as devotional offerings. They were there to attend the inauguration of the Godse Gyan Shala, a memorial library and “knowledge center” dedicated to Nathuram Godse, the man who shot Mahatma Gandhi. The devotional yellow and pink flowers were laid around a black and white photograph of Godse, the centerpiece of the room. On Jan. 30, 1948, Godse stepped out in