Afghan tripartite meeting underway in Geneva
A tripartite meeting between the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan and UNHCR is underway at our headquarters.
During today's discussions, which follow similar meetings in Kabul (April 2002) and Tehran (June 2003), Afghanistan's Deputy Minister for Refugees and Repatriation Mohammad Ghiaci, Ahmad Hosseini, adviser to Iran's Interior Minister and head of the Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrant Affairs, and UNHCR's Philippe Lavanchy and Filippo Grandi, our country representatives for Iran and Afghanistan respectively, plan to review the joint programme for the repatriation of Afghan refugees.
Nearly 600,000 Afghans have returned from Iran since the repatriation got underway in 2002. Officials meeting today are discussing the repatriation and how any obstacles to return can be removed, including promoting Afghanistan's reintegration and reconstruction. The parties will also discuss ways to boost refugees' awareness about conditions in Afghanistan and plans for the repatriation of refugees during 2004. In addition, they will review possibilities for the involvement of refugees in December's constitutional Loya Jirga and the possible voter registration of refugees ahead of the elections scheduled for mid-2004.
UNHCR estimates that there are 1.1 million Afghan refugees in Iran.