The United Nations praised Iran's "exemplary" refugee resettlement program this week, saying the country's decades-long effort to house approximately 3 million displaced Afghans was "a story that's not told often enough."
Sivanka Dhanapala, head of the office for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Tehran, made the remarks on the same day that President Donald Trump sought to reinstate a controversial 90-day ban on travelers from six majority-Muslim countries, including Iran, and a 120-day ban on all refugees. The new executive order was blocked from going into effect by two courts.
Roughly 6 million people were displaced from Afghanistan to neighboring countries amid the Soviet War in 1979. Nearly 40 years later, Tehran still shelters 1 million registered refugees, and another 2 million are thought to be living there, making it the world's fourth-largest refugee population.
"The leadership demonstrated by the Iranian government has been exemplary in hosting refugees and keeping borders open," Dhanapala said on Wednesday.
The U.N. also hailed a 2015 directive from Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei that called on education administrators to allow all Afghan children, documented or not, to attend Iranian schools.
"We've also worked with the government on incorporating refugees into a government-sponsored health insurance scheme which is a ground-breaking development not just for Iran but globally for refugees," Dhanapala said.
"In a world where you have multiple bad stories about hosting refugees, I think Iran is really a good news story," he said. "It's a story that's not told often enough."