UNHCR Iran, Tehran, 28 October 2018: The government of the Republic of Korea has reaffirmed its commitment to supporting Afghan refugees in the Islamic Republic of Iran through the signing of a new Letter of Understanding (LoU) with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Iran on 15 October 2018.
A voluntary financial contribution of six million US dollars (USD 6,000,000) has been pledged by the government of the Republic of Korea to the UNHCR project ‘Protection and humanitarian assistance to Afghan refugees in Iran’ to support its humanitarian activities to enhance the health, self-reliance and livelihoods of Afghan refugees in Iran. The project is in line with the regional multi-year framework known as the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR), which is the result of a unique quadripartite consultative process between the Islamic Republics of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan and UNHCR. Endorsed in 2012, the SSAR is aimed at facilitating voluntary return and sustainable reintegration in Afghanistan while at the same time providing assistance to refugees, host communities and countries like Iran.
In collaboration with the Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants Affairs (BAFIA) of the Ministry of Interior of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Republic of Korea’s contribution will support UNHCR’s humanitarian activities for refugees in Iran by improving their health status and self-reliance.
The objectives of this project will be achieved through a variety of refugee related activities including:
- Supporting the Universal Public Health Insurance Scheme for refugees
- Providing assistance to maintain and enhance access to primary healthcare facilities
- Providing business training to establish home-based enterprises
- Providing formal vocational training through partners
This generous contribution will be used to fund activities implemented for the project period from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2020 in coordination with UNHCR’s main government counterpart, BAFIA.
The Ambassador of the Republic of Korea in Iran, Ryu Jeong-hyun, and UNHCR Acting Representative, Iryna Korenyak, marked the occasion by signing the Letter of Undrestanding at UNHCR’s country office in Tehran. Highlighting the importance of supporting the large refugee population in Iran, his Excellency, Ryu Jeong-hyun stated “On behalf of the Korean Government, it is my great pleasure to be able to make this contribution to the meaningful project ‘Protection and humanitarian assistance to Afghan refugees in Iran’, continuing our close partnership with UNHCR over the past five years and reaffirming the Korean Government’s firm commitment to providing humanitarian assistance in the future”. During the signing ceremony Iryna Korenyak appreciated Korea’s ongoing support to Afghan refugees in Iran. “As one of UNHCR’s longstanding donors, the Republic of Korea continues to support refugees in Iran to ensure that they have access to quality healthcare and livelihoods opportunities so that they are better able to foster self-reliance and to positively contribute to the communities they are living in until conditions in their country of origin are conducive to their safe and dignified voluntary return”.
Providing for close to 1 million registered Afghan refugees, the Islamic Republic of Iran currently ranks as the fifth largest refugee hosting country in the world. Of these refugees, 97 per cent reside in urban areas across the country. The remaining three per cent live in 20 government-run refugee settlements. In addition to registered Afghan refugees, government estimates indicate that there are 1.5 to 2 million undocumented Afghans in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In 2017, the Government of Iran initiated a country-wide exercise to identify the undocumented Afghan population and to facilitate the regularization of this large number of individuals.
UNHCR has maintained an uninterrupted presence in the country for 34 years, and works in close coordination with BAFIA to provide protection and assistance to Afghan and Iraqi refugees throughout the Islamic Republic of Iran.