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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations



Iran, one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, suffers frequent earthquakes, droughts, floods, landslides and major storm, which take a heavy toll on the country’s people and infrastructure.

The country has also hosted one of the world’s largest refugee populations for the last 4 decades, including some 3.65 million vulnerable Afghans. Meanwhile, Iran is one of the countries most affected by COVID-19 in its region. The pandemic puts serious strains on its healthcare system and an economy already burdened by sanctions.

What are the needs?

Iran hosts the largest Afghan refugee population, with numbers expected to increase significantly following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan. Some 97% of the Afghan refugees live in host communities, with less than 3% residing in refugee settlements.

Depending on their registration and documentation, Afghans in Iran receive various degrees of protection and access to basic services. Since 2015, free education is accessible to all children in Iran, regardless of their nationality. However, education facilities are constrained.

Healthcare needs are high and resources are not sufficient to cover all of the most vulnerable registered refugees.

Despite humanitarian exemptions, US sanctions constrain Iran’s procurement of essential medical goods, hindering access to life-saving treatments for Afghans and Iranians.



How are we helping?

In 2021, the EU allocated €16.5 million in humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable in Iran, bringing the total EU humanitarian support to €77.5 million since 2016.

Part of the funding aims to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, including the provision of urgent medical, protective and testing equipment. EU humanitarian funding also supports the delivery of other life-saving medicines and equipment in Iran.

EU humanitarian aid provides vital assistance to the most vulnerable Afghan refugees and host communities through protection programmes, including cash assistance to the most vulnerable. Cash assistance also helps with the renewal of identity documents and paperwork necessary to enrol children into schools, as well as covering education costs, essential medicines and other basic needs.

To help Afghan children enrol in already overstretched education facilities, the EU and its partners also provide support through the rehabilitation of schools, classrooms and sanitation facilities.

The EU's assistance in Iran is channelled through international aid organisations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and UN agencies.

Last updated: 01/09/2021

Picture: © European Union/ECHO/Pierre Prakash

Facts & figures

More than 950,000 registered Afghan refugees (UNHCR)

Over 3.5 million Afghan nationals reside in Iran, including around 2 million undocumented (UNHCR)

EU humanitarian funding:
€76 million since 2016

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