Tehran, Iran – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes the generous contribution of USD 1,250,000 from the Government of Japan. This new funding will be crucial in enabling UNHCR to enhance its support of refugees over the course of 2021, in coordination with UNHCR’s government counterpart, the Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants’ Affairs (BAFIA).
“In Iran, COVID-19 has had a dire impact on the lives of all of us over the past year, with refugees’ well-being and livelihoods having been particularly damaged. Japan’s support is a great example of international responsibility-sharing towards Afghan refugees, whom the Government of Iran has generously been hosting for over 40 years,” said Ivo Freijsen, the UNHCR Representative in Iran. “This funding will ensure that refugees continue to benefit from Iran’s inclusive policies, especially in terms of health and education, and can continue building their futures.”
“The Government of Japan highly commend Iran’s generosity and the hospitality towards refugees over the past 40 years. In this connection, Japan, as a member country of SSAR Support Platform Core Group, would like to underline the importance of international responsibility-sharing as a key principle in the Global Compact on Refugees and will continue to work closely with Iran, UNHCR, and other stakeholders towards achieving of the SSAR’s objectives,” said His Excellency AIKAWA Kazutoshi, Ambassador of Japan to Iran. “We sincerely hope this support will result in improvement of the refugees’ livelihood and Basic Human Needs.”
Responsibility-sharing is one of the key principles of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), affirmed by the United Nations General Assembly on 17 December 2018. The GCR provides a blueprint for governments, international organizations, and other stakeholders to ensure that host communities get the support they need and that refugees can lead productive lives.
In addition to supporting access to primary healthcare and education, this funding will go towards the implementation of livelihoods activities, such as the provision of technical and vocational training and support to small businesses and workshops for refugees in Iran. In turn, refugees can then positively contribute to the Iranian host community during their stay, and further utilize their new skills in their country of origin, once conditions become conductive for their safe and dignified voluntary return. For example, Roya, a 20-year-old Afghan refugee, joined the fight against COVID-19 by sewing hygiene masks in a tailoring workshop established by UNHCR in Sarvestan refugee settlement. The masks continue to be delivered to health and humanitarian service providers across the country is an example of the way refugees can give back their host communities when provided with opportunities.
Lastly, funds will also be directed towards supporting basic infrastructure projects in settlements and remote urban areas.
Japan is one of the biggest donors to UNHCR in support of Afghan refugees. This year, the Government of Japan has also provided USD 1.5 million to UNHCR Pakistan and USD 5 million to UNHCR Afghanistan, for a total of USD 7.7 million to support UNHCR’s work in responding to the world’s most protracted, and second-largest refugee situation.
Japan has also committed its support to the regional Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) by becoming, in 2020, a member of the Core Group of its Support Platform, along with 12 other states and entities. UNHCR in Iran works along with the strategic framework of the SSAR, devised in coordination with the Government of Iran, which aims to channel international investments to bolster Iran’s inclusive national systems, especially in health, education, and livelihoods.
As the Government of Iran has been upholding progressive policies towards refugees for decades, further support is needed to ensure international responsibility-sharing, at a time where such generous policies are becoming increasingly challenging to maintain, and as increased humanitarian needs may be seen as a fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the latest information provided to us by the Government of Iran, on which consultations are ongoing, Iran hosts around 780,000 Afghan refugees and almost 20,000 Iraqi refugees, placing Iran in the top 10 of the world’s largest refugee-hosting countries. Of these refugees, it is estimated that 96 percent live in urban areas, side-by-side with Iranian host communities. The remaining 4 percent live in 20 government-run refugee settlements.
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