500,000 foreign nationals leave Iran during pandemic

April 24, 2021 - 18:0

TEHRAN – Some 500,000 foreign nationals have so far left the country during the coronavirus pandemic, Mohsen Ebrahimi, deputy labor minister has said.

There are currently 3.5 million foreign nationals working in the country, he stated, IRNA reported on Saturday.

The impact of the pandemic on livelihoods has been particularly severe for refugees, who usually rely on precarious and unstable jobs. Many can no longer cover their most basic needs, let alone the costs of health insurance and treatment costs.

Two million foreign nationals residing in Iran

Deputy interior minister Javad Naserian said in February that about one million documented foreign nationals are residing in Iran, and perhaps another one million are illegally living in the country.

At the end of 2018, Iran hosted close to one million refugees, making it the sixth-largest refugee host country in the world. The country was also the eighth largest refugee-hosting country in the world in 2019, hosting 951,142 Afghan refugees and 28,268 Iraqi refugees, according to the UNHCR.

One of the largest and most protracted urban refugee populations in the world is living in Iran; about 97 percent of refugees live in urban and semi-urban areas, while three percent are residing in 20 refugee resorts run by the UNHCR's main government counterpart.

Undocumented Afghans have access to free primary health services and similarly free COVID-19 related testing, treatment, and hospitalization, just like nationals.

Education, health for foreign nationals 

Many of the refugees living in Iran are the second and third generation, according to the UNHCR.

There are 40,000 Afghan students in the country, according to the official report, 17,000 of them are graduated, while the unofficial report is estimated at 26,000.

Some 47,000 people were trained and 10 percent of legal refugees were covered by social insurance with the help of the UNHCR, and other foreign nationals can pay for health insurance like Iranians.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, undocumented Afghans have access to free primary health services and similarly free COVID-19 related testing, treatment, and hospitalization, just like nationals.

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