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US sanctions disrupting host countries bid to assist Afghan refugees: Iran envoy

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Esmaeil Baghaei Hamaneh, Iran’s permanent representative to the United Nations’ office in Geneva (Photo by IRNA)

Iran’s permanent representative to the United Nations’ office in Geneva says the United States’ sanctions targeting the countries that host displaced Afghans have come to interfere with their efforts to properly help out the refugees.

Esmaeil Baghaei Hamaneh said the “unilateral sanctions have seriously jeopardized” humanitarian endeavors by countries, such as the Islamic Republic that have been involved in assisting the displaced Afghans, to “timely address the needs of the refugees,” IRNA reported on Wednesday.

The diplomat made the remarks at a meeting held on the sidelines of the 72nd session of the Executive Committee of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)’s Programme.

“The oppressive American sanctions’ adverse repercussions have overshadowed the host countries’ capacities to support the refugees, and have [therefore] prevented the realization of the principle of humanitarian solidarity in the efforts that are aimed at helping out the people of Afghanistan,” he noted.

Iran hosts close to 800,000 “registered” Afghan refugees and upwards of 2.3 million undocumented ones.

The number of the refugees have been on the rise since August, when the Taliban militant group rose back to power in the Central Asian country.

The Iranian official, meanwhile, underlined the need for creation of an inclusive government in Afghanistan that represents all the country’s ethnicities and religious inclinations, respects the principles of human rights, and establishes good-neighborly relations with the country’s neighbors.

Addressing the meeting, the UNHCR’s chief, Filippo Grandi expressed gratitude on the part of the UN refugee agency for the Islamic Republic’s efforts to host the Afghan refugees, especially given the adverse circumstances that have been brought about by the coronavirus’ pandemic.

He urged the international community to do more to support Iran and Pakistan’s respective roles in assisting the spillover of the displaced people from Afghanistan.
International sanctions, he added, should not present any obstacle in the way of humanitarian support for refugees around the world, and should rather include exemptions that instead facilitate host countries’ efforts to assist the externally displaced people.

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