European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

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Afghan refugees in Iran. © European Union/ECHO/Pierre Prakash

What are the needs?

After over three decades of conflict in neighbouring Afghanistan, Iran continues to host 951 142 documented refugees and between 1.4 and 2 million undocumented refugees. It is estimated that some 2 000 Afghans continue to arrive every day in Iran.

These people face constraints and limitations with regards to registration, livelihoods, health, access to education and other essential services. Undocumented Afghans are in a more vulnerable situation because they have no legal status and are therefore not eligible for humanitarian assistance. Since the beginning of 2016, the situation has started to change slowly thanks to a governmental decree allowing undocumented Afghan children to access formal education.

In addition to the protracted displacement of Afghans, Iran is also subject to natural disaster, especially earthquakes.

How are we helping?

The EU has been funding humanitarian projects targeted at Afghan refugees in Iran since 2002.

Until 2015, European Commission humanitarian partners working with Afghan refugees concentrated their assistance on vulnerable documented refugees. Among other, the EU supported the UN Refugee Agency in providing livelihood assistance (including vocational training), health care, water and sanitation, voluntary repatriation, protection and legal counselling to vulnerable Afghan registered refugees.

Currently, assistance is increasingly targeted towards undocumented Afghans who are - due to their status - more vulnerable. In the second half of 2016, the EU increased its humanitarian assistance by €8.5 million, bringing the total on-going EU funding for Afghan refugees in Iran to €15 million. This includes €2.5 million to assist with the integration of 34 000 out-of-school Afghan children into the Iranian education system. The EU and Iran have also agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation in support of better prevention, detection and response to natural disasters.

The EU has provided humanitarian help to the victims of the 1997, 2002 and 2003 earthquakes in Iran. 

Last updated 23/03/2017