ABU DHABI — The withdrawal of Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) from Afghanistan last July has strengthened the credibility of the Nobel Prize winning organisation's stand on the Afghan refugees in Iran, said a MSF official from Iran.
Dr Corty Jean Fransois, Chief of Mission, MSF Iran, in an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times at the organisation's regional office in Abu Dhabi recently, said: "Our decision to stop all our aid programmes in Afghanistan in the light of the increasing instability and purported violence against voluntary organisations adds more ground to our argument that the war-torn nation is not in a position to absorb millions of refugees back within a couple of years."
Dr Corty had a one-day stopover in the capital on his way back to the MSF headquarters in Paris after his 15-month-long mission in Iran.
"The reeling social, economic and security problems in the country leave the situation still unstable with no proper infrastructure and reconstruction works apart from the escalating fights between the coalition troops and Taleban," explained Corty.
Emphasising that MSF aims to provide medical and humanitarian assistance to the refugees, he said that the organisation has decided not to be part of the repatriation programme initiated by the United Nation's High Commission for Refugees because Iran is using various pressure tactics to flush out over 800,000 Afghan refugees who have sought asylum in the country since 1980s.
"The government is imposing severe restrictions on Afghan refugees in matters of schooling, employment, social security schemes, medical facilities etc, making their life miserable. So the repatriation is not all voluntary as agreed in the treaty signed by the two countries," noted Corty.
Recounting his interactions with the refugees both in Iran and Afghanistan, he said that many of them are reluctant to go back to their home country because they will be forced to settle in extremely underdeveloped regions without basic amenities like water and light.
"A large number of them are born and brought up in Iran and a sudden uprooting will create an identity crisis especially for women who have to abide by many social taboos in matters of dressing, behaviour, etc in Afghanistan in contrast with a more liberal attitude in Iran," added Corty.
Since 1990s, the MSF has been actively intervening to help refugees and victims of both natural and man-made calamities in Iran by providing medical assistance and nursing care through standing facilities and mobile clinics. They also have special programmes for malnourished children, to follow up with pregnancies and provide aids like blanket, heaters etc for the displace and needy.