The Iranian government is seeking greater assistance from international NGOs to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of refugees, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Some international NGOs already work with refugees in Iran, but several left the country earlier this decade because of difficult working conditions.
At a conference staged earlier this week in Tehran by Iran’s interior ministry, UNHCR and the International Consortium for Refugees in Iran, the government urged NGOs to return or establish a presence for the first time.
Deputy Interior Minister Abbas Mohtaj said at the event that some of the refugees had been in Iran for more than 30 years. Mohtaj added that finding a solution had taken too long "and we therefore believe that today, when repatriation is becoming more and more problematic, we should work with NGOs to find solutions to assist voluntary repatriation”.
With 968,000 refugees – mostly Afghans – Iran hosts the second largest refugee population in the world after Pakistan, according to UNHCR.
According to a World Food Programme report issued in December 2008, only a few thousand Afghan refugees live in refugee camps. Their incomes are low and the average family spends about 77 percent of its income on rent.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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