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UNHCR Iran Operational Update | September – October 2020

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OPERATIONAL CONTEXT

In October, COVID-19 infections continued to rise sharply – surpassing 600,000 total cases and reaching almost 35,000 deaths at month-end – and movement restrictions, closure of non-essential businesses and health protocols were reinforced throughout the country. The Iranian Rial continued to experience devaluation while inflation continued to flare, causing prices of basic goods to continue to rise and affecting refugees’ and host communities’ ability to comfortably make ends meet. The Statistics Center of Iran's latest report showed that food prices increased by over 49 percent in October compared to the same month last year.

For the fourth decade, Iran continues to be amongst the countries hosting the highest number of refugees in the world, with almost 1 million Afghan and Iraqi refugees.

POPULATION MOVEMENTS

VOLUNTARY REPATRIATION

760 individuals, all Afghans, returned to their country of origin from Iran as of October 2020, as part of UNHCR’s voluntary repatriation programme. During the same period in 2019, 1,733 refugees had been voluntarily repatriated. Due to COVID-19, UNHCR is currently only carrying out voluntary repatriations from its Dogharoun Field Unit.

RESETTLEMENT

In 2020, UNHCR Iran only received resettlement quota for 120 individuals – the lowest since UNHCR started resettlement activity in Iran in 1999. The United Kingdom provided a quota of 100, while Iceland provided a quota of 20.

So far in 2020, 90 individuals departed for resettlement; 4 to New Zealand, 70 to Sweden, 7 to the UK, 8 to Australia and 1 to Finland. Due to COVID-19, resettlement from Iran is currently on hold, with many refugees who have been accepted for resettlement to third country waiting for the availability of flights.

By the end of September 2020, 22 cases (84 individuals) have been submitted to five countries, namely Iceland, the UK, Sweden, Norway, and Finland. Also by the end of September 2020, 9 cases (36 individuals) were accepted by Australia, Sweden, Norway, Finland and the UK.

SECONDARY MOVEMENT

From January to October 2020, Afghans were the second most common citizenship to claim asylum in Europe (25,485 first-time claims), according to the Eurostat database.

Afghans made up 6% of all arrivals to Europe through the Mediterranean from January to October this year.
Afghan arrivals to Europe declined in April due to COVID19-related movement restrictions, but are slowly resuming.
According to the Mixed Migration Centre, 25% of Afghans interviewed in Turkey started their journey from Iran, 4% from Pakistan, and 71% from Afghanistan.