Iran has been one of the world’s leading refugee hosts for over forty years
Within the framework of the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR), UNHCR supports the Government of Iran in implementing inclusive refugee policies. The SSAR also facilitates coordinated protection approaches among partners, consensus-building on international protection priorities, and dialogue and partnerships in support of the Afghan refugee situation
UNHCR supports the efforts of the Ministry of Health to include refugees in the national health care system. Free primary health care, including vaccinations, essential medicines and maternal and child health services are available to all, regardless of their documentation status. Refugees also have access to universal public health insurance to cover secondary and tertiary health care, on par with nationals. In 2021, UNHCR covers the insurance premium for up to 120,000 of the most vulnerable refugees, while others can enroll by paying the premium themselves.
All children in Iran have access to primary and secondary education regardless of their documentation status. Refugee, undocumented and foreign children study side by side with Iranian school children, while following the same national curriculum. Higher education can also be accessed by Afghans and Iraqis. In 2016, the Government of Iran removed ‘refugee-specific’ fees, ensuring education is accessible to all. UNHCR also supports the government in constructing schools and in providing literacy training to refugees.
UNHCR implements a diverse portfolio of livelihoods interventions for refugees. These projects include certified technical and vocational training and other income generating projects. Supporting refugees to access livelihoods opportunities can prepare them to become more self-sufficient and better able to meet the basic needs of their families. Refugees can thus also increase their economic potential, enabling them to contribute to their host community and one day, their home country, when conditions become conducive for returns.
Over the course of 2020, 947 individuals returned to their country of origins from Iran, under UNHCR’s voluntary repatriation programme. As of September 2021, 800 refugees returned to Afghanistan – 60% of returnees are students for whom UNHCR facilitates repatriation to obtain student visas to pursue studies in Iran.
UNHCR advocates for more third-country solutions for refugees. In 2020, UNHCR Iran only received resettlement quota for 120 individuals, the lowest since UNHCR started resettlement activity in Iran in 1999. The resettlement quota for 2021 is zero.