Afghans retrieve useful items from their damaged mud homes demolished by authorities during a crackdown against an illegal settlement and immigrants, on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023. Pakistan’s top court in the capital, Islamabad began hearing Friday, Dec. 1, a petition seeking to halt the deportation of Afghan refugees, officials said, a day after a province in the country's southwest set targets for police to arrest and deport hundreds of thousands of Afghans it says are in the country illegally. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed, File)

Iran’s foreign minister has blamed irresponsible actions and coercive economic measures of the U.S. for the recent influx of refugees to the West Asia region and also Europe and elsewhere.

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian made the remarks in an address to the Global Refugee Forum 2023, which is underway in Geneva, Switzerland.

The minister said the Iranian government, which is itself hit by the U.S. sanctions, works hard to provide basic services to over five million Afghan refugees, many of whom entered the country following the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and after Washington took massive economic measures against Tehran.

“Iran has witnessed the longest-running refugee situation for over 45 years, and following the 2021 developments in Afghanistan, it now hosts the biggest refugee population in the world,” he said. “Iran’s generous hosting of refugees comes as the country is itself under the most severe illegal U.S. sanctions.”


Amir-Abdollahian said Afghan refugees enjoy free healthcare services, free education, as well as other services in Iran, although this has put a lot of pressure on Iran’s infrastructure, including its healthcare system and energy supply networks.

He lamented that the contributions offered by the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, only compensate for one percent of the total cost of supporting Afghan refugees in the country.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian speaks at the annual meeting of the Caspian Sea littoral states foreign ministers in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov hosts top diplomats from Caspian states in Moscow, including foreign ministers from Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. (Yuri Kochetkov/Pool Photo via AP)

The Iranian minister said the refugee forum must help countries like Iran with expenses of hosting refugees, and also facilitate their return to their home countries, as it’s neither fair nor feasible for a single country to bear the whole burden by itself. 

‘Israel creating new refugee crisis’

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iranian minister called for an immediate end to the Israeli regime’s genocidal onslaught on Gaza, which he said is creating a refugee crisis in the region and beyond.

Amir-Abdollahian said the Israeli regime intends to forcibly push Palestinians out of their homeland through indiscriminate bombing of innocent people and residential buildings in the Gaza Strip.

He slammed the unbroken U.S. support for Israel, saying the UN has been prevented by the U.S. from taking any effective step to achieve a ceasefire in the besieged territory.

Amir-Abdollahian added that the only way to avert a crisis is to stop the genocidal invasion of Gaza and prevent the forced displacement of Palestinians. He said the world must rush to the Palestinians’ help, and to send humanitarian aid, including medicine, food, and fuel, to Gaza and also the West Bank.

“No conscientious person can remain indifferent to the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and the entire Palestine,” Amir-Abdollahian said.

Now in its third month, the bloodiest-ever Gaza war broke out on October 7, when the Israeli regime launched a massive onslaught against Gaza following a surprise operation by the Hamas resistance movement.

Israel’s relentless bombardment and ground operation in Gaza has left the territory in ruins, killing more than 18,400 people, mostly women, and children, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

The UN estimates that 1.9 million of Gaza’s 2.4 million people have been displaced and were receiving goods from only around 100 aid trucks per day. (