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Afghanistan situation: Emergency preparedness and response in Iran, 30 December 2021



690,248 people have been internally displaced in Afghanistan in 2021, of which 15% are families, 21% are women and 59% are children.

According to preliminary estimates by the Government of Iran, up to 500,000 Afghans have arrived in Iran in 2021.

As borders remain officially closed for asylum-seekers, Afghans continue to make their way to Iran informally through unofficial border crossing points. UNHCR is aware of 26,244 Afghans who arrived in Iran from 1 January to 18 December, though the numbers are understood to be much higher.


  • At the end of a three-day visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran between 17-21 December, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, urged the international community to scale up its support to the Government and people of Iran, who are receiving Afghans fleeing a deteriorating situation in their country. Grandi met with Iran’s Foreign Minister, the Minister of Interior and the Minister of Health to discuss ways forward to manage and assist newly arriving Afghans, including through registration and documentation. He also called on the Government to recognize the protection needs and risks faced on return to Afghanistan. Grandi travelled to Zahedan, the capital of Sistan and Baluchistan province – the first high-ranking UN official to do so in the past decade – where he met with Afghan families, including children and elderly people, who fled to Iran from Nimrooz four months ago. “Afghan refugees spoke of their pain and desperation at having to leave their homes behind,” he said. University-aged women also conveyed to him their anguish at having to abandon their studies and not knowing what their future will hold. Upon meeting with the donor community, Grandi stressed the importance of international burden-sharing and the need for more funding and support for Iran’s humanitarian efforts.

  • The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution to allow aid to reach Afghans in desperate need of basic support. This was welcomed by the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator,
    Martin Griffiths, as a “milestone” decision that will save lives. In passing the text, the Council exempted humanitarian assistance and other activities that support basic human needs from sanctions imposed under resolutions 2255 (2015) and 1988 (2011), concerning individuals and entities associated with the Taliban.
    This will allow the processing and payment of funds, other financial assets or economic resources, as well as the provision of goods and services necessary to ensure the timely delivery of assistance.

  • On 19 December, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Martin Griffiths, virtually participated in the 17th Extraordinary Session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers held in Pakistan. He described the situation in Afghanistan as dire, with 23 million people facing hunger in the country, including children becoming malnourished. In addition, Griffiths stated that 70% of teachers in Afghanistan are currently working without salaries, while millions of students are out of school. He added that the need for liquidity and stabilization of the banking system “is now urgent – not only to save the lives of the Afghan people but also to enable humanitarian organizations to respond.”

  • According to OCHA, since 1 September 2021, its partners have reached 43,921 children with community-based education activities, supported 162,229 people with household items, provided 8.9 million people with food assistance, reached 1,385,999 people with primary and secondary healthcare (direct consultations), provided treatment for acute malnutrition to 238,223 children under five, supported 48,886 people with individual protection assistance including cash for protection, and reached 507,728 people with WASH assistance including through hygiene promotion and hygiene kits.