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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations
© European Union (photographer: Pierre Prakash)


Iran is hit by multiple emergencies. There has been a significant deterioration of the humanitarian situation due to the worsening Afghan refugee crisis and a socio-economic and environmental crisis.

The country is hosting an estimated 4.6 million Afghans, who are experiencing increased vulnerabilities. Iran is also facing a socio-economic crisis compounded by the legacy of COVID-19.

Furthermore, Iran, one of the most disaster-prone countries worldwide, suffers frequent earthquakes, droughts, floods, landslides and major storms. These natural hazards take a heavy toll on its people and infrastructure.

What are the needs?

Iran hosts the largest number of Afghans abroad. The Afghan population in the country is further increasing following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan in 2021. Some 98% of them live in host communities, with less than 2% residing in refugee settlements.

Depending on their registration and documentation, Afghans in Iran receive protection and have access to basic services. Since 2015, free education has been accessible to all children in Iran, regardless of their nationality.

However, education facilities are constrained. Healthcare needs are high, and resources are insufficient to cover all the most vulnerable registered refugees.

Despite humanitarian exemptions, issues of over compliance with sanctions constrain the procurement of essential medical goods. This situation hinders access to life-saving health treatments for Afghans and Iranians.

Map of Iran

How are we helping?

In 2022, the EU allocated €11 million in humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable in Iran, bringing the total EU humanitarian support to €92.3 million since 2016.

EU humanitarian aid provides vital assistance to the most vulnerable Afghans in Iran and host communities, in full compliance with the no harm principle. Key programmes of assistance focus on education, health and nutrition, protection, basic needs and disaster preparedness support.

EU-funded cash assistance allows refugees to renew their identity documents and complete the necessary paperwork to enrol children into schools. Support covers the expenses associated with education, accommodation, essential medicines, and other basic needs.

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

Part of the EU humanitarian funding also supports the delivery of life-saving medicines and medical equipment in Iran, including those required to battle the spread of epidemics.

The EU also focuses on responding to natural hazards. Most recently, the EU allocated a total of €600,000 to support local efforts in assisting families affected by the earthquake that struck West Azerbaijan province in January 2023 and October 2022.

Through the EU’s support, vital relief items such as food parcels, tents, blankets, ground mats and life-saving health care were delivered, with a focus on the most vulnerable people.

The EU’s assistance in Iran is channelled through non-governmental organisations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and UN agencies.

Last updated: 22/06/2023

Facts & figures

More than 762,000 registered Afghan refugees (UNHCR)

Around 4.6 million displaced Afghans reside in Iran with varying legal statuses, including:

  • 750,000 refugees card holders
  • an estimated 2.6 million undocumented Afghans registered through the Headcount exercise conducted by the Government of Iran in 2022 (UNHCR). According to authorities, 500,000 undocumented Afghans did not participate in the headcount.

EU humanitarian funding:
€11 million in 2022
€92.3 million since 2016

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