COVID-19 Response

How UNHCR supported Iran in the fight against COVID-19

Working closely with the Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants’ Affairs (BAFIA), UNHCR enhanced its emergency support to the Government of Iran’s response to the pandemic. With the generous support of our donors, UNHCR was able to assist refugees by providing essential medicines, medical and personal protective equipment, cash assistance, and through awareness-raising campaigns. Furthermore, UNHCR, in collaboration with the UN country team (UNCT), supported the government’s application for the supply of vaccines for 20% of persons of concern through the COVAX Humanitarian Buffer. UNHCR also brought in over 100 tonnes of medical aid items.

Considering the COVID-19 movement restrictions to contain the spread of coronavirus, UNHCR increased its helplines capacity so that refugees continue accessing protection services, which contributed to addressing the heightened needs of persons with specific needs, including women and children. UNHCR’s hired lawyers and psycho-social counsellors continued to provide legal advice and counselling to refugees via phone.

UNHCR and the Government of Iran rolled out a Gift Cards project consisting of one-off cash grants to cover three months’ worth of Minimum Expenditure Basket as a response to increased vulnerabilities. By December 2021, UNHCR’s cash assistance in response to COVID-19 had reached over 42,800 individuals.

COVID-19 vaccination and healthcare services for refugees

Thanks to Iran’s inclusive policies, refugees and undocumented foreign nationals affected by COVID-19 were able to approach hospitals and health facilities and access free of charge COVID-19 testing, treatment, and hospitalization, similar to Iranian citizens.

Additionally, through the Universal Public Health Insurance (UPHI), UNHCR supported access to secondary and tertiary healthcare for the most vulnerable refugees. This provided a safety net to those particularly vulnerable to the virus, such as individuals with pre-existing conditions. In 2022, UNHCR is supported 120,000 of the most vulnerable refugees and people with special diseases by paying the premium fee for their enrolment in health insurance.

Thanks to donors and partners, UNHCR was able to help the fight against the pandemic that has affected the entire world. UNHCR extends a special thanks to its partners for contributing to the COVID-19 response in Iran: Germany, France, Austria, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Canada, Japan, Australia, Sweden, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland, Belgium, Italy, Russian Federation, Finland, Czechia, Republic of Korea, EU, CERF, Qatar Airways, UN Programme On HIV/AIDS, UNIQLO.