IOM Afghanistan Recognizes Contributions Of Afghan Diaspora From Iran
IOM organized an event in Kabul on Wednesday, April 18 to recognize contributions made to the development of Afghanistan by qualified Afghan diaspora who returned from Iran through IOM’s “Return of Qualified Afghans” (RQA) programme. To date, 617 qualified Afghans living in Iran have returned under this Japan-funded project to contribute their expertise in areas such as IT, engineering and healthcare.
Since 2001, IOM has facilitated the return of 1665 diaspora Afghans from 29 countries in order to strengthen the capacity of government and non-government institutions, as well as the country’s private sector.
A key component of the programme has been the assisted return of qualified Afghans from neighbouring Iran, which the Government of Japan has been funding on an annual basis since 2008.
The event brought together RQA beneficiaries, host institutions as well as representatives from the private sector and government of Afghanistan to celebrate the achievements of the 2017-2018 phase of the project which saw the return of 20 qualified Afghans from Iran.
“I would like to convey a message to the diaspora members from Iran who are here with us today: Don’t let anyone tell you that migration is a problem, migration is an opportunity. Use the opportunity that IOM and Japan have given you to apply the knowledge that you have learned Iran to support the institutions of your country of origin while, at the same time, trying to expand your career here in Afghanistan or further afield,” said IOM Afghanistan’s Senior Programme Coordinator, Sarah Craggs.
Several participants in the programme shared their stories. Zahra Rasooli opted to return through the RQA project in 2017 and worked in the Ministry of Energy and Water (MEW) as a Renewable Energy Engineer.
“We need to utilize more Afghan expertise from abroad because they are able to bring about positive change. I am thankful to the Government of Japan, and look forward to their continuous support to the RQA programme”, said Khair Mohammad Niru, Director General of Manpower at the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled (MoLSAMD).
“I am advancing in my career more experienced, determined and confident thanks to the experiences and exchanges I have had. I have also had the privilege of transferring my knowledge and experience to my colleagues and co-workers. IOM provided me with an appropriate job opportunity that matched exactly which what I studied in Iran,” she said.
Hossein Mohammadi returned to work at the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing: “The RQA programme is a great help for all Afghans who have graduated from Iranian universities and who intend to return to their own country to participate in the development of Afghanistan, make a difference and utilize their knowledge and experience,” he noted.
The Afghan diaspora from Iran come from a variety of backgrounds, but all share the same motivation to contribute their skills for the recovery and development of Afghanistan.
Speaking at the event, Afghan Minister of Refugees and Repatriation Sayed Hussain Alimi Balkhi described the programme as “a bridge between the host country and the country of origin: It plays a significant role in the reconstruction and development of the country.”
Following the success of the previous phases of the programme (2001-2017) IOM Afghanistan has once again received (March 2018) support from the Government of Japan to continue supporting qualified diaspora from Iran through 2018 and beyond.
“The Government of Japan, as the only donor for the current RQA program, has contributed 1 million USD for meeting the needs of Afghan returnees in 2018-19, including qualified Afghan returnees from Iran. I hope from the bottom of my heart that the Japanese contribution will enable Afghans to happily return home and contribute to the reconstruction of their country”, wrote Mitsuji Suzuka, Ambassador of Japan to Afghanistan, in his address to the participants.