Vaccination of Afghan refugees a great achievement for Iran: WHO

November 28, 2021 - 18:45

TEHRAN – World Health Organization (WHO) representative to Iran Jaffar Hussain has 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.

Providing the vaccine to refugees living in Iran is a big deal for the government, he emphasized.

With the expansion of vaccination coverage, coronavirus mortality has declined to less than 100 in Iran and most provinces are out of the red (high-risk areas), he added, IRNA reported.

The vaccination program and health measures in Iran should be more complete and the situation should be better, he suggested.

The WHO, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Iran, is studying the effectiveness of Sinopharm, AstraZeneca, and COVIRAN vaccines.

Iran is one of the leading countries in West Asia for public vaccination coverage. About one million people in Iran have received the third dose of the vaccine and we are trying to help the Pastu Covac and COVIRAN to complete documentation and receive the World Health Organization quality certificate so that it can be exported to low-income countries in the region, like Africa, he explained.

Iran is one of the leading countries in West Asia for public vaccination coverage, as the country has registered a record 1.5 million doses of vaccines injected in one day, he concluded.

Iran has always been a major supporter of refugees and displaced persons, and the provision of services to asylum seekers for four consecutive decades is a testament to this.

Without any discrimination, Iran has provided various services to a large number of refugees and foreign immigrants in the fields of education, health, treatment, livelihood, vocational training, and employment, with minimal assistance from the international community.

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).