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



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

For the last 4 decades, the country has also hosted one of the world’s largest refugee populations, including around 4 million vulnerable Afghans.

Meanwhile, Iran is one of the countries most affected by COVID-19 in its region. The pandemic puts severe 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 increasing 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 protection and 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, US sanctions constrain Iran’s procurement of essential medical goods, hindering access to life-saving treatments for Afghans and Iranians.

Map of Iran

How are we helping?

In 2022, the EU allocated an initial €11 million in humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable in Iran, bringing the total EU humanitarian support to €111 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 allows refugees to renew their identity documents and do the necessary paperwork to enrol children into schools. It covers education costs, 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.

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: 31/03/2022
Picture: © European Union/ECHO/Pierre Prakash

Facts & figures

More than 780,000 registered Afghan refugees (UNHCR)

Around 4 million Afghan nationals reside in Iran, including around 2.6 million undocumented Afghans (UNHCR)

EU humanitarian funding:
€11 million in 2022
€111 million since 2016

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