UNHCR, Tehran, 17 June 2016 - Less than six months after having taken up his new assignment, the newly appointed United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr. Filippo Grandi, opted to visit the Islamic Republic of Iran 17 - 19 June 2016. On his first official tour of the region which includes Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Mr. Grandi highlighted the particular importance of the Afghan refugee caseload over the last 37 years; a protracted refugee situation which has largely been forgotten by the international community.
To show his solidarity with the refugees, the High Commissioner chose the timing of his visit to coincide with the holy month of Ramadan and the week of World Refugee Day. This day is commemorated worldwide on 20 June but was programmed on 18 June in Tehran to coincide with the High Commissioner’s visit.
Commencing his mission with a field visit to Qom city, Mr. Grandi met refugees who had learned technical skills as part of UNHCR and Government of Iran-supported Technical and Vocational Training Organization courses. He also conducted focus group discussions and home visits to discuss the common issues faced by the refugee community in Iran, as well as their situation in the areas of Health, Education and Livelihoods.
Further Mr. Grandi had the opportunity to meet with UNHCR partners of the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR); namely UN Agencies, national and international NGOs, and an evening Iftar was held with refugees. The High Commissioner also met with government officials including the Minister of Interior, Education, Health and Foreign Affairs. The Diplomatic Community also engaged with the High Commissioner and attended the commemorative event of World Refugee Day in the centre of Tehran.
Throughout his visit, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees appreciated the generosity of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the hospitality and kindness it has shown refugees for nearly 40 years. He called upon the international community to recognise that refugees in Iran and around the world are a shared responsibility which should not be borne by host countries alone.