TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Irish President Michael D. Higgins defended the rights of migrants and thanked nations, such as Iran, that are hosting refugees who are displaced by conflicts.

– World news –

Addressing the 74th United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, he said that it was important to highlight the facts concerning the contribution of migrants to society.

Higgins went on to comment on refugees and migration, speaking of the need to recognize “the generosity of the many states which shoulder a heavy burden in the front line, states such as Bangladesh, Chad, Ethiopia, Iran, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Pakistan, Turkey, and Uganda.”

“I say to the people of these states: you humble us all by hosting great numbers of persons displaced by conflicts in your neighborhood regions,” Higgins added.

Iran has hosted Afghan refugees since the late 1970s following the occupation of their country by the Soviet Union troops. Although many of those refugees have returned to their country voluntarily, there are still hundreds of thousands of documented and undocumented Afghans in Iran.

In 2014, UN resident coordinator in Iran Garry Lewis appreciated the measures adopted by the Islamic Republic in hosting foreign nationals, saying Iran is the world’s second biggest country accepting foreign refugees.

In May 2017, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif voiced the country’s readiness for consultations with neighboring Afghanistan on procedures for legalizing the residency of Afghan refugees in Iran, as the country is now hosting 410,000 Afghan schoolchildren, 17,000 university students, and around 3 million Afghan nationals.

Meanwhile, the US sanctions on Iran and Western countries’ shirking their responsibilities for Afghan refugees have had Iran to bear all the costs, as Iranian deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi put it while speaking at a TV program back in May, saying that Iran spends $8 billion on Afghan migrants every year in various sectors, and the countries which caused the displacement of Afghans must accept responsibility and help cover the costs.

The 74th session of the UN General Assembly opened in New York on September 17 with the global climate emergency as one of the key topics. High-level General Debate started on Tuesday, September 24, with 91 heads of state and even more top diplomats from 193 nations coming together.