Wed Oct 28, 2015 10:17AM
Daisy Dell (C), the director of the UNHCR’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, addresses a meeting of the Quadripartite Steering Committee, a regional initiative to examine the situation of Afghan refugees, in Tehran, Iran, May 19, 2015. (Photo by IRNA)
Daisy Dell (C), the director of the UNHCR’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, addresses a meeting of the Quadripartite Steering Committee, a regional initiative to examine the situation of Afghan refugees, in Tehran, Iran, May 19, 2015. (Photo by IRNA)

News of the hundreds of thousands of Syrians displaced from their homeland by a raging civil war and seeking shelter in other countries, including those in Europe, has become a constant development in the media.

Many countries have refused to open their borders to these refugees and others have set limits. But in this part of the world, Iran, a country hosting more than two million refugees from its neighboring countries, the situation is different.

Hundreds of thousands of Afghan and Iraqi nationals have immigrated to Iran over the years. Unofficial statistics put the number of refugees in the country at around 2.5 million Afghans and 500,000 Iraqis. Official figures that only include individuals with ID cards put that number at less than 880,000 Afghans and 43,000 Iraqis.

Almost a hundred percent of these refugees live in urban areas and the remaining three percent in the so-called “host cities.” We have something like 95,0000 afghans, documented refugees, I would say documented because they hold what we call MIH cards or refugee registration cards here in Iran. We also have in addition to the Afghans just over 29,000 Iraqi refugees from the first conflict in Iraq and it's been a long standing role, a generous role as host Iran has played.

Figures show that on average two thousand Afghans illegally cross the border into Iran every day. That means 60,000 people a month. Protecting the 945-kilometer border between Iran and Afghanistan is no cake-walk. Education is among the other needs of the immigrants.

Iran is a country with a young population that includes around 12 million school-goers and up to 4.4 million university students.

The annual per capita budget for every student in Iran is 500 dollars. Official figures released by Iranian judicial organizations show Afghan nationals account for 36 percent of first-degree murders in Iran. They also constitute most of the foreign nationals incarcerated in Iran, held, largely, for smuggling illegal drugs.