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 Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. Launched in 2012, the SSAR continues to provide 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 in 2021, 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 and Medical Education 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 contributions to our operation for harm reduction programmes which are implemented by NGO partners. The efforts focus on provision of services to refugee substance users through outreach, prevention of social harms, training and psychological counseling as well as referrals to testing centers, shelters, and harm reduction centers.
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 programmes. In 2022, 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.
Under the 2023 Refugee Response Plan (RRP) for the Afghanistan Situation, 15 international humanitarian organizations in Iran are requesting some US$ 198.9 million to respond to the needs of some 1,500,000 refugees/refugee-like populations, Afghans of other status (including projections of new arrivals in 2023) and 1,440,000 members of the host community targeted under this plan.