The European Commission has announced renewed support for those most in need in Iran and Pakistan with €22 million in humanitarian aid. This package will assist those most affected by human-made crises, the COVID-19 pandemic, climate induced and other natural hazards in the region.
Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič said: “Iran and Pakistan are both highly vulnerable to recurrent natural hazards, with both countries' situations aggravated by a severe coronavirus pandemic. Iran and Pakistan are also the principal host countries of Afghan refugees worldwide. The EU is boosting support to humanitarian organisations in both countries at this critical time.”
Of the €22 million allocation, €15 million will focus on supporting humanitarian organisations working in Iran to assist the most vulnerable Iranians and Afghans in the country.
Part of the funding will support the country's battle against the severe coronavirus pandemic, including the provision of urgent medical equipment.
EU humanitarian funding also supports Iran's commendable efforts in assisting Afghans on its territory and host communities, on education, health, protection and livelihood.
€7 million will go to humanitarian organisations in Pakistan, focusing on the most vulnerable local populations, Afghans as well as host communities. Assistance will comprise Afghans and Pakistanis, affected by conflict, displacement, COVID-19 and natural hazards, including malnutrition.
All EU humanitarian aid is strictly monitored and only provided to established humanitarian organisations such as United Nations agencies, NGOs and international organisations.
Iran is the worst hit country by the coronavirus pandemic in the region and one of the most affected worldwide. A fourth wave is ongoing and the response is challenged by difficulties in Iran's procurement of essential medical goods, due to over compliance of pharmaceutical and shipping companies as well as banks with US sanctions, despite humanitarian exemptions.
The socio-economic impact of COVID-19 continues to exacerbate humanitarian and developmental needs. In addition, Iran hosts the greatest number of Afghans worldwide, with an estimated 3.65 million Afghans on its territory.
The EU allocation of €15 million in humanitarian assistance in 2021 to the most vulnerable people in Iran brings the total EU humanitarian support in the country to over €76 million since 2016.
In Pakistan, while the health situation related to Covid-19 has not reached emergency levels and has recently significantly improved, the pandemic has seriously compounded the country's economic challenges. This has severely aggravated challenges of the most vulnerable tranches of the population, including Afghans and especially non-documented ones, dependent on daily labour.
Pakistan hosts estimated 3 million Afghans. Loss of livelihood has pushed many to resort to negative coping mechanisms, increasing protection concerns.
Particularly worrying is the increase in malnutrition and food insecurity. Already pre-COVID, the malnutrition situation in southern Pakistan was dire, with very high stunting and wasting figures among children under 5.
EU humanitarian funding in Pakistan will focus on supporting those affected by conflict, both Pakistanis and Afghans as well as on strengthening the resilience and the capacity of vulnerable communities to better respond to epidemics and natural hazards such as earthquakes, recurrent floods and drought.
This amount brings the total EU humanitarian support to people in need in Pakistan to over €88 million since 2016.