UNHCR ‘fully mobilized’ to help Iran contain COVID-19 

March 17, 2020 - 19:56

TEHRAN - UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is fully mobilized to help contain the spread of COVID-19 in Iran, said Ivo Freijsen, UNHCR Representative in Iran.

UNHCR has further enhanced its emergency support to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We stand in solidarity with the Iranian people and authorities and are fully mobilized to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate the impact on the most vulnerable, including refugees,” Freijsen said.

To address the critical and urgent lack of hygiene materials in Iran, UNHCR in coordination with its government counterpart, the Bureau for Foreign Aliens and Immigrants’ Affairs (BAFIA), has begun distributing items such as soap and disposable paper towels to some 7,500 refugee households living in refugee settlements across the country. These, along with infra-red no-contact thermometers, will also assist our partners, who remain committed to maintaining their assistance to refugees, UNHCR website reported on March 15.

Since February, the number of individuals who have contracted the new Coronavirus in Iran has increased exponentially and the virus has now spread to all 31 provinces of the country. Refugees, most of whom live side by side with host communities in villages, towns and cities, are at the same risk of catching and transmitting the new Coronavirus as Iranians.

Refugees in Iran have access to primary health care services and are included in the national COVID-19 response.

UNHCR is working closely with BAFIA, the Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education, the World Health Organisation, other UN agencies and national and international NGOs to raise awareness of key prevention measures amongst refugees and host communities and mobilize support.

“The humanitarian community is coming together to support Iran, but much more support is needed. UNHCR is fully committed and will continue to work with local authorities and partners to assess the needs of, and further support, refugees, including those whose livelihoods may have been impacted by the virus”, said Freijsen.

UNHCR is urgently seeking an initial US$33 million to boost the preparedness, prevention and response activities to address the immediate public health needs of refugees and host communities prompted by COVID-19 around the world. In Iran, UNHCR needs US$6.3 million for its COVID-19 emergency measures, which is part of the UN Country Team’s COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan.

MG

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