Red Cross chief visits Iran talks about plight of Afghans

The head of the Red Cross said on Monday he spoke about the plight of Afghan migrants who fled their country after the Taliban seized power in Iran last year.

“Afghanistan has been very present in the conversation, especially following the recent developments we saw in August with the change of government,” Robert Mardini told AFP after two days of talks in Tehran with authorities. Iranian.

“The discussions were positive. We agree,” said Mardini, director general of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

More than a million Afghans have sought refuge in Iran since the Taliban returned to power in August, according to Iranian news agency IRNA.

Thousands of Afghans try to cross into neighboring Iran every day in search of work or to reach Europe in the hope of obtaining asylum.

The Islamic republic now hosts a total of five million Afghans, according to Iran’s Foreign Ministry.

Mardini said the ICRC had discussed with the Iranian Red Crescent how to “provide essential health services to Afghan migrants and refugees”.

“We did this during the Covid pandemic where the Iranian Red Crescent, with our support, was able to provide vaccination services to Afghan migrants,” he said.

Mardini said he also discussed in Iran the situations in Yemen and Syria and the effects of armed conflict, as well as climate change, in those countries.

Talks with Iranian foreign and interior ministry officials also focused on the fate of those missing from the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, he said.

According to him, “about 40,000” people are still missing from the eight-year conflict that ended in 1988.

“We are helping the two governments to clarify the fate of missing persons… Every year, on average, between 600 and 800 human remains are repatriated to their families,” Mardini told AFP.

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