UNHCR and UN agencies in Iran


As humanitarian crises have become more and more complex, UNHCR has expanded both the number and type of organizations it works with. We work closely with sister UN agencies, whose work complements or converges with ours. Most important among these are the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). UNHCR is also committed to working closely with other agencies through the “Delivering as One” initiative, which aims at improving cooperative UN action in the areas of development, humanitarian assistance, and the environment.

In Iran, UNHCR coordinates with UN partner agencies, NGOs, and international organizations under the umbrella of the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR).  The SSAR is a quadripartite multi-year regional strategy between UNHCR and the Governments of the Islamic Republics of Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. Launched in 2012, the SSAR provides a framework for cooperation between humanitarian and development actors to address the needs of Afghan refugees and the communities that host them. It is also the guiding regional policy framework for protecting and enabling solutions for Afghan refugees. The key objectives of the SSAR in Iran are focused on education, health,  and livelihoods.


UNHCR leads the Education Working Group in Iran, which is comprised of UNHCR, UNICEF, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), and Relief International (RI), and aims to build synergies among actors in the wider education sector. Since the onset of the Afghanistan emergency, UNHCR is also part of the Education in Emergencies Sector Group led by UNICEF, which ensures consistency and coordination among the actors so that the best possible complimentary services are provided to the beneficiaries promptly. Since the creation of the Education in Emergency Sector Group, inputs and updates of the Education Working Group are provided in that forum as well.


Considering that refugees residing in Iran primarily originate from Afghanistan as an Advance Market Commitment (AMC) Country under COVAX, The Humanitarian Buffer application was completed and submitted by the Ministry of Health through a joint process with UNHCR, WHO, and UNICEF (led by UNHCR on behalf of humanitarian agencies in Iran). As a result, 1,611,600 doses of vaccines were donated on 15 November 2021, through the COVAX Humanitarian. Since 2018 UNAIDS makes yearly contribution to our operation for our harm reduction activities, which include provision of support, training and counselling on GBV/domestic violence prevention through NGOs (partners: HAMI and ODVV).


UNHCR implements cash-based interventions (CBIs) directly and through partners, to assist extremely vulnerable refugees in meeting their immediate protection and basic needs. Through the Cash Working Group, UNHCR and other partners (NRC, RI, and WFP) provide cash assistance and collaborate to facilitate the greatest impact of available resources, while minimizing the likelihood of duplication, through joint case management and data-sharing.

In Iran, UNDP and UNHCR are supporting national systems to ensure access to basic services and strengthen the resilience of refugees and host communities, thereby enhancing overall social cohesion and peaceful co-existence.

 Afghanistan emergency and the inter-agency response in Iran:

In August 2021, UNHCR launched the Afghanistan Situation Regional Refugee Preparedness and Response Plan (RRPRP). This is an inter-agency plan with 10 partners working on a coordinated response to potential outflows, by supporting the host countries of Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. This plan focuses on preparedness, limited emergency response, and expanded support to regular programs. Under the 2022 Refugee Response Plan (RRP) for the Afghanistan Situation, 16 international humanitarian organizations are requesting some US$ 258.7 million to respond to the needs of some 794,000 Amayesh cardholders, 274,000 new arrivals, 585,500 undocumented Afghans, and 550,000 members of the host community targeted under this plan.

UNHCR and UNICEF, with the support of the Government of the Republic of Korea, have launched a project aimed to carry out WASH interventions and build Water and Sanitation infrastructures for new arrivals from Afghanistan in the eastern provinces of Iran.