Red Cross chief on Iran visit talks Afghans' plight


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

"Afghanistan was very much present in the conversation, especially in the wake of the recent developments that we witnessed in August with the change in the government," Robert Mardini told journalists after two days of talks in Tehran with Iranian authorities. "The discussions were positive. We see eye to eye," said Mardini, director general of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

More than one million Afghans have sought refuge in Iran since the Taliban returned to power in August, according to Iran's state news agency IRNA. Thousands of Afghans daily try to cross into neighbouring Iran in search of work, or in a bid to reach Europe in the hope of asylum. The Islamic republic now hosts a total of five million Afghans, according to Iran's foreign ministry.

Mardini said the ICRC discussed with Iran's Red Crescent ways of "providing critical health services to Afghan migrants and refugees". "We did that 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 the armed conflicts, as well as climate change, in those countries.

Talks with Iranian officials at the foreign and interior ministries also focused on the fate of missing persons from the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, he said. According to him "around 40,000" people are still considered missing from that eight-year war which ended in 1988.

"We support the two governments in clarifying the fate of the missing persons... Every year, on average, there are between 600 and 800 human remains that are being repatriated to their families," Mardini told journalists.    (AFP)

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