1236 GMT May 22, 2019
Six provinces in the worst-hit area of western Iran and bordering Iraq remain in a state of emergency following the floods. Thousands of refugees reside in these provinces, largely in urban dwellings where they live side-by-side with host communities.
UNHCR Representative in Iran Ivo Freijsen said, “Generously hosting close to one million refugees over four decades, potentially thousands of Iran’s large refugee population could be affected in these six provinces.”
Prompted by the seriousness of the situation, UNHCR took an early decision, in coordination with the Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants Affairs of the Ministry of Interior (BAFIA), to use existing in-country resources including blankets, sleeping mats, jerry cans and kitchen sets to assist government-led relief efforts.
Friejsen explained, “Drawing on additional HQ reserves, UNHCR has now dispatched 1,000 tents and other relief items from its global stockpile, which landed in Iran by air freight on April 10 and will be distributed in coordination with the government to the most affected communities, including refugees, as soon as possible.”
Speaking during a joint mission to the affected province of Golestan in northeast Iran, Freijsen, lauds the government for its swift action and ongoing efforts to respond to the needs of refugees and host communities across the country.
“UNHCR commends the government of Iran’s ongoing emergency response which has been directed at both Iranians and refugees alike, and appreciates its willingness to engage with UNHCR and the wider UN family in Iran.”
Providing for close to one million Afghan refugees and almost 30,000 Iraqi refugees, Iran is currently one of the largest refugee hosting countries in the world. Of these refugees, 97 percent reside in urban areas, side-by-side with Iranian host communities. The remaining three percent live in 20 government-run refugee settlements. In addition to Afghan refugees, government estimates indicate that there are 1.5 to two million undocumented Afghans in Iran.
UNHCR has maintained an uninterrupted presence in the country for 35 years, and works in close coordination with its main government counterpart the Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants' Affairs BAFIA to provide protection and assistance to Afghan and Iraqi refugees throughout the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Unprecedented heavy rains and flooding in Iran have swept over much of the country, affecting 24 of its 31 provinces.
According to latest government estimates, since March 19, 70 people have died and over 1,000 have been injured. Displacing an estimated 500,000 people, the floods have left over two million in need of immediate humanitarian assistance.