Visited Count : 2619  |  Publish Date : 9/15/2014

The Islamic Republic of Iran hosts one of the largest protracted refugee populations and the single largest urban refugee population in the world. Being in a protracted displacement situation, refugees in Iran experience a range of obstacles to their individual development, and are especially vulnerable to deterioration of their own skills and waste of their human capital. The living conditions of refugees in Iran have been affected by the current global financial crisis, socio-economic situation in the region, and recent economic reforms in the country, of which the targeting of food and energy subsidies is one manifestation. In the absence of social protection measures, the livelihood of the majority of refugees has deteriorated due to low income, lower educational and skills level, and lack of access to financial and credit services that are otherwise available to the host community. While the majority of the country’s population has been affected by the difficult socio-economic situation, refugees have been particularly hard hit as they are often in a more vulnerable situation than the host population and do not to benefit from the social protection measures available to nationals.

UNHCR with the support of Government of I.R. of Iran has been implementing projects for the refugees to help them diversify their livelihood options and facilitate sustainable return and re-integration in their countries of origin. Evidence shows that refugees who can build and protect their assets are more likely to return to their home country when it is safe to do so.

To name a few interventions, UNHCR has been providing technical, vocational and skills training with the partnership of TVTO (Technical and Vocational Training Organization), and other organizations, to more than 4,000 refugees in more than 40 varieties of courses in 14 provinces of Iran in the past years. Provision of skills training is vital to enhance the human capital of the refugee community, and diversify their livelihood options to achieve greater livelihood outcomes.

Moreover, in 2013, UNHCR initiated a new project with the partnership of FRWO (Forests Range and Watershed Management Organization) to build the capacity of the refugee communities in Saveh settlement on the sustainable management of environmental resources, and to diversify their livelihoods to maximize their self-reliance and decrease the socio-economic challenges as well as the protection of natural resources.

Within the overall framework of the Solution Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) Outcome III for Iran, UNHCR and its humanitarian and development partners, have developed a multi-year joint programme on sustainable livelihood that will target both refugees/returnees and the host communities on both sides of the border. In line with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Innovative Package, the purpose of this programme is to enhance the livelihoods of Afghan refugees in Iran in the anticipation of a sustainable return to Afghanistan. Nevertheless, the programme will seek to achieve greater development outcomes in the host communities on both sides of the border. Under the Solutions Strategy’s Outcome III for Iran, this programme will also intend to enhance food security among the refugee households in both urban areas and settlements through facilitating access to secure income.

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