0516 GMT January 19, 2020
In an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, Ivo Freijsen said on Tuesday that Iranian cordiality in dealing with refugees needs to be highlighted on the international arena and that other nations should assist Tehran in its commitment to refugees at a time when the country is faced with massive sanctions.
The UNHCR representative made reference to economic hardships under sanctions which have also negatively impacted refugee lives in Iran and noted that the UN body was particularly concerned with the daily cost of living for the refugee population, especially those with larger families.
Reports indicate that some four percent of Iran’s population is comprised of foreign immigrants who work and live in the country. Iran has been a safe haven for refugees fleeing regional wars and conflicts.
The country, which has been under heavy US-led sanctions over the past years, accommodates more than three million foreign immigrants, mostly Afghan nationals, thousands of whom enjoy Social Security Insurance, according to official reports.
The UNHCR official further said that the Iranian government and the UN body did not always have all the means at hand to facilitate aid delivery, be it financial or otherwise, to refugees while the current economic restrictions have exacerbated the situation.
Thus, it is imperative that a mechanism be devised to bridge the gap between the private sector and the UNHCR in refugee affairs, Freijsen pointed out.
He said the refugee communities in Iran could present their experiences and know-how at conventions where they can get together with supportive enterprises and manufacturers. Freijsen made the remarks during one such get-together in the Iranian capital city where business leaders and refugee representatives gathered to share views and insights to advance their refugees’ standard of living.
Iran reportedly hosts over 450,000 refugee students and the government has been making efforts to maintain their education expenditures on par with Iranian students. Figures reveal that the country allocates some 250 million dollars per annum for refugee education alone.