China Donates $1 Million for Afghan and Iraqi Refugees in Iran

UNHCR tents for refugees in Iran
More than 1 million refugees live in 20 communities across Iran. Most come from Afghanistan and Iraq. Photo: Todd Huffman/Flickr

The government of China has donated $1 million to support Afghan and Iraqi refugees living with Iran in food aid and education, the U.N. World Food Programme said on Monday.

“The US$1 million contribution will be used to purchase fortified wheat flour, sunflower oil enriched with vitamins, lentils, rice and sugar for food distributions among Afghan and Iraqi refugees living in settlements across Iran,” WFP said in a press release.

All food will be purchased locally.

The WFP has been providing food assistance refugees in Iran since 1987, and currently handles food assistance for 30,000 people each month as well as take-home rations for 3,000 refugee schoolgirls and their female teachers throughout Iran, according to the agency.

The new funding comes as part of the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2015.

“The Chinese government and people are together with those brothers and sisters who are in difficulty. We appreciate the efforts and efficiency in implementing this project by our WFP and Iranian colleagues,” the Chinese Embassy in Tehran said.

Separately, the International Organization for Migration said in its weekly report that 13,842 undocumented Afghans returned or were deported from Iran between November 19-25, an increase of 1 percent over the previous week.

The IOM has documented a “substantial increase in the return of undocumented Afghans from Pakistan and Iran” this year, with more than half a million people returning to Afghanistan due to a number of factors, including the loss of “protection space” in those countries.

Iran is home to the fourth largest refugee population in the world, with more than one million registered refugees, mostly from Afghanistan and Iraq, living across the country. Many reside in makeshift homes or in one of 20 camps around the country.