Foreign aid to Afghan refugees in Iran is small: UNHCR

November 15, 2021 - 16:42

TEHRAN – The amount of assistance provided by international organizations to address the needs of Afghan refugees in Iran is small, and most of the support is provided by the Iranian government and people, Ivo Freijsen, UNHCR Representative in Iran, said.

Most of the support and care for Afghan refugees is now on Iran and its neighboring countries, Freijsen said, adding, reducing the support of international organizations to address the needs of Afghan refugees living in Iran should be referred to UN member states for necessary decisions, IRNA reported.

However, part of the international assistance to Afghan refugees has been provided in the past, so that some of the migrants have been resettled in urban structures, and another part is related to the new period of migration from this country.

To this end, one center has now been set up to house Afghan refugees in Sistan-Baluchestan and two in Khorasan Razavi province, he stated.

Freijsen traveled to Mashhad on Monday with five other heads of international organizations to address the latest situation of Afghan refugees.

In 2021 alone, UNHCR is directly aware of some 18,000 Afghans who newly arrived in Iran using irregular routes. The number of Afghan citizens with residence permits in Khorasan Razavi is 350,000, 96 percent of whom live in Mashhad city.

Due to the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and the possibility of a new wave of refugees, the Islamic Republic will not be able to accept newcomers due to existing restrictions and lack of necessary facilities, he lamented.

In 2021 alone, UNHCR is directly aware of some 18,000 Afghans who newly arrived in Iran using irregular routes, although the total number that has entered the country is likely to be significantly higher. Since the beginning of the year, over 660,000 persons were newly displaced within Afghanistan itself.

Iran hosting world's fourth-largest refugee community

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.

The same happened for the vaccination when the country has generously considered refugees over the age of 75 for vaccination against coronavirus.

In order to support the refugees living in the country, the seventh phase of the health insurance plan will cover 120,000 vulnerable refugees through a memorandum of understanding signed between the Health Insurance Organization and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

In Iran, UNHCR is seeking $16.2 million for its COVID-19 emergency, while requires an additional $98.7 million to support Iran in maintaining and sustaining its commendable inclusive refugee policies, under the umbrella of the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR).