The UN refugee chief has said displaced Afghans had already been “forgotten” by the international community before they began arriving in Europe in large numbers last year.
On a visit to Iran on June 18, Filippo Grandia said his first regional tour as the new UN High Commissioner for Refugees was focused on Afghan refugees.
“Afghan refugees unfortunately have been forgotten by the international community,” Grandi said at a joint press conference in Tehran with Iranian Deputy Interior Minister Hossein Zolfaghari.
“It is only when they started arriving in Europe together with many other refugees that the international community suddenly remembered.”
According to the UN, there are 950,000 registered Afghan citizens living in Iran. However, Iran’s Interior Ministry estimates that the total number of Afghans in Iran is around 3 million.
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.
Zolfaghari told reporters that Iran has borne great costs to prevent illegal immigration to other countries, especially to Europe.