Iran hosts one of the largest urban refugee populations in the world; 97% of the refugees in Iran live in urban areas, while the remaining 3% live in settlements that have a similar structure to a township. The refugees in Iran live in environments where they have access to markets and services as the host communities. Providing refugees with cash enables them to fulfil their needs in a dignified manner and contributes to the local economy.
CBIs seek to protect refugees by reducing the risks they face and maintaining their capacity to spend. The flexibility that CBIs offer makes them a more dignified form of assistance, giving refugees the ability to prioritise their immediate need and provide them with choices. CBIs reduce the risks of resorting to harmful coping strategies, such as child labour, drop-out from school, and forced marriage. They also directly benefit the local economy and can contribute to peaceful coexistence with the host communities.
UNHCR Iran offers a variety of CBIs which include, provision of multi-purpose cash assistance to assist extremely vulnerable refugees in meeting their immediate protection and basic needs with choice and dignity. These interventions facilitate access to higher education by providing recurrent cash assistance (DAFI scholarship); supporting refugees livelihoods; through providing financial support for durable medical equipment for persons with disabilities; facilitating transportation in the case of voluntary repatriation and covering documentation and transportation costs prior to resettlement.
UNHCR Iran leads a Cash Working Group between INGOs, UNHCR, and WFP to harmonize approaches and maximize cooperation between all CBI actors in the country. UNHCR’s approach to CBIs is guided by the principle of financial inclusion, which seeks to ensure refugees’ access to the national financial banking system as Iranian nationals. Jointly with the Government of Iran. In addition, UNHCR is exploring further ways to diversify its CBIs.