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Iran Seeks Funds To Return Afghan Refugees

October 10, 2006 -- Iranian Interior Minister Hojatoleslam Mustafa Pur-Mohammadi today urged the international community to help fund the repatriation of nearly 2 million Afghan refugees who remain in his country.

Pur-Mohammadi made the plea at a meeting with officials of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Geneva.

At the end of the talks, Iran pledged to maintain the "safe, dignified, and voluntary character" of returns as the "preferred durable solution" for sending refugees home.

Both sides also agreed to turn to donor countries for further help in repatriating Afghans.

Iran's Fars News Agency quotes Pur-Mohammadi as telling the UNHCR that more than 1 million unregistered and 950,000 registered Afghans live on Iranian territory.

The UN agency says that while more than 1.5 million Afghans have returned home since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, the number of voluntary returns has now almost dried up.

(IRNA, Fars, AP)