The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offices in Iran signed a Letter of Understanding on Sunday, 2nd August 2015 to cooperate on a number of areas namely Child Protection, Education, Health and Nutrition as well as emergency preparedness, to assist Afghan refugees in Iran.
The Letter of Understanding is valid from August 2015 to December 2016 and was jointly signed by UNHCR Representative in Iran, Mr. Sivanka Dhanapala and UNICEF Representative in Iran, Dr. Ezio Gianni Murzi in UNHCR office in Tehran.
UNHCR Iran works with the Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants Affairs (BAFIA) of the Ministry of Interior, other line ministries and a number of local and international NGOs to ensure that all the registered refugees are aware of and have access to basic services as part of the national programmes. UNHCR activities for Afghan refugees in Iran are guided by the Solution Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR), a regional, multi-year strategy initiated in 2012 between the Islamic Republics of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan and UNHCR to support voluntary repatriation and sustainable reintegration while also supporting host countries to assist refugees. The Islamic Republic of Iran has been at the forefront of the SSAR and was the first country to operationalize the Strategy which includes a focus on livelihood, education, health and voluntary repatriation.
Under the current joint country programme of cooperation 2012-2016, UNICEF Iran office works with BAFIA to increase the access of Afghan children to basic education and other inclusive social services in Iran. UNICEF and BAFIA also support civil society and non-governmental organizations to provide Afghan children and adolescents with basic education services and protect them from maltreatment and abuse.
UNHCR and UNICEF have a long history of effective and demonstrated collaboration in international humanitarian programmes. The current partnership is in line with the initial global Memorandum of Understanding dated 14 March 1996 between UNHCR and UNICEF which was conceived as a means to promote coordinated action in areas of interest in assisting the refugee population.
The Islamic Republic of Iran hosts one of the largest and protracted refugee populations in the world who have been in the country, for now, more than 30 years and continues to generously provide them with services related to education, health and livelihood. According to Amayesh IX refugee registration exercise, there are 979,410 refugees in Iran (951,142 Afghan and 28,268 Iraqi refugees) out of which 97% reside in the urban settings and only less than 3% reside in settlements.