Iran has been generous to host refugees over past decades: UNHCR

December 1, 2021 - 17:31

TEHRAN –Millions of Afghans have fled their country over the past few decades, and Iran as a neighboring country has been generous to host many of them, said Ivo Freijsen, UNHCR’s Representative in Iran.

“The Taliban’s takeover of power has exacerbated the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and beyond. With the onset of winter, even more, Afghans face hunger and hardship.”

He added that the Government of Germany has significantly increased its support for Afghan refugees in 2021, from an initial EUR 3.2 million earlier this year, to EUR 57 million as of November, to support UNHCR response in Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The total German contribution to emergency support for Afghanistan is amounting to EUR 600 million.

This contribution will allow UNHCR, in coordination with Iran’s Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants’ Affairs (BAFIA), to continue to support Afghan refugees and host communities in Iran through health, education, and livelihoods opportunities.

This donation will also help newly arrived Afghans who are fleeing their country. So far, in 2021 alone, UNHCR is directly aware of over 20,000 Afghans who arrived in Iran using irregular routes to seek safety in Iran, although the total number that has entered the country is likely to be significantly higher. UNHCR will thus channel funds towards pre-positioning Core Relief Items, hygiene kits, and tents at the eastern borders, to ensure newly-displaced persons receive the urgent assistance they need.

In October, German Ambassador to Iran Hans Odo Motzel expressed readiness to help solve the problems of refugees by expanding cooperation with international organizations, appreciating Iran for the services provided to refugees.

“We will do our best to remove the obstacles and challenges facing the refugees,” Motzel said in a meeting with Mehdi Mahmoudi, director of citizens and foreign immigrants of the Ministry of Interior.

Regarding the supply of the COVID-19 vaccine, the ambassador said that Germany has also allocated a budget for the supply of the vaccine for refugees.

Iran is hosting the world's fourth-largest refugee community. The country has generously hosted approximately 1 million refugees for the past 30 years. The majority, which mainly came from Afghanistan and Iraq, live in urban areas. Approximately 31,000 of the most vulnerable refugees live in 20 settlements located throughout the country.

Based on the latest statistics, over 3 million Afghans are living in Iran - some 780,000 Afghan refugees, over 2 million undocumented Afghans, and another 600,000 Afghan passport-holders with Iranian visas.

However, in light of the pandemic, all refugees, even those undocumented, benefited from access to free primary health services and free COVID-19 related testing, treatment, and hospitalization, just like Iranian nationals.

On November 28, World Health Organization (WHO) representative to Iran Jaffar Hussain said it is a great achievement for Iran that the government is vaccinating every Afghan refugee going to the vaccination center even before receiving COVID vaccines from Humanitarian Buffer (COVAX).

"There are three to four million Afghan refugees in the country and the government received 1.6 million doses from Humanitarian Buffer (COVAX) from COVID but the government is vaccinating every Afghan refugee going to the vaccination center even before receiving the buffer from their own resources and I witnessed it during my visits to Vaccination centers in Tehran, Kerman, and Mashhad," he said.

MG

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