UNHCR rushing relief supplies to assist Afghans and Iranians affected by floods
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is working with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and humanitarian partners to provide assistance to survivors of recent floods that swept through Sistan and Baluchistan province in the south of Iran recently in January.
A truck carrying core relief items from UNHCR’s existing in-country stockpiles has arrived in Zahedan, the capital of the province, to complement the government’s relief effort. Items including tents, jerricans, plastic tarpaulins, blankets, sleeping mats and kitchen sets are being distributed in coordination with Iran’s Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants Affairs (BAFIA) to some 2,000 individuals – Afghans and host communities alike.
Thousands of people are reported to have had to leave their houses as banks of rivers burst and water levels rose. Many are now living in crowded emergency shelters. Flood waters have submerged roads, making access to some 500 villages difficult.
The floods have also impacted access to public services, including hospitals, and damaged sanitation facilities. Humanitarian actors on the ground remain concerned that the flooding may increase health risks and spread of diseases. Access to food and drinking water are among the most pressing needs for locals and the estimated 110,000 Afghans who reside in the area. Schools in the region also remain closed.
“It is our duty as humanitarians to help people in need whenever we are in the position to. In close coordination with the Iranian Government, we hope UNHCR’s additional support can help people who have lost their homes in the floods,” says Ivo Freijsen, UNHCR’s Representative in Iran.
As the weather forecast indicates new waves of rain in the coming days in Sistan and Baluchistan province, UNHCR continues to work alongside the Iranian government to support assistance efforts, particularly in refugee hosting areas, as needed.
BAFIA, UNHCR, and UN and NGO partners are currently conducting an assessment to better determine the extent of the damage and needs of affected communities in Sistan and Baluchistan province.
Iran has been one of the world’s leading refugee hosts for decades and currently has some one million registered refugees from Afghanistan. In addition, over two million Afghans are estimated to live in Iran either without documentation or on national passports. Despite stringent economic pressures, Iran has strived to maintain access to education, healthcare and other social services for Afghans.
At this time of great need, UNHCR urges the international community to rally around Iran and support the Government’s humanitarian efforts. END
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