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Rich in resources, Iran ranked 69 out of 188 countries in the 2015 Human Development Index. Although the war with Iraq ended in 1988, Iran continues to be surrounded by conflicts in neighbouring countries and has required international assistance to cope with a continuous flow of refugees, particularly from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Wth just under one million refugees, Iran hosts the 4th largest refugee population in the world. A significant number of poor and food-insecure refugee families continue to require humanitarian support, including WFP food assistance as they are unable to buy food on the market.

More than 951,000 Afghan refugees and 28,260 refugees from Iraq were registered in Iran as of early 2016. Although the majority of them live in urban areas, about 30,000 people live in 19 official refugee settlements with very limited livelihood options. Basic services and housing are provided in the settlements by the Government, WFP, and UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency.

In 2016, WFP in Iran undertook a comprehensive Joint Assessment Mission in co-operation with the UN refugee agency, UNHCR to assess the food and non-food needs of refugees with a view to including a livelihood component in its programming. An assessment into the feasibility of shifting assistance to cash-based transfers - which enable refugees to choose the food they buy and inject cash into the local economy - was also conducted in 2016.

79 million
1 million
refugees live in Iran
refugees live in refugee settlements, the rest in urban areas

What the World Food Programme is doing in Iran

  • Food assistance to refugees

    WFP works to ensure basic food security for vulnerable Afghan and Iraqi families in refugee settlements in Iran. Those who are able to meet some of their own food needs receive a reduced WFP ration, while extremely food-insecure families which have been severely affected by the removal of government subsidies and rising food prices receive an increased ration.

  • Technical training for youth

    WFP promotes education and technical training among young refugees in settlements to increase their livelihood opportunities and help their future reintegration into their respective countries. Youth from the settlements receive vegetable oil as an incentive to attend technical training courses.

  • School meals

    The provision of take-home rations of fortified vegetable oil as an incentive for refugee girls’ education has contributed to increased enrolment and regular attendance by females at primary and secondary schools. As parents had been sometimes reluctant to send their girls to schools that did not have female teachers, an individual in-kind incentive for female teachers has proved to be an effective solution.

Iran (Islamic Republic of) news and stories

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Partners and donors

Achieving Zero Hunger is the work of many. Our work in Iran is made possible by the support and collaboration of our partners and donors, including:



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