Crisis Severity The severity score from 1 to 5 is based on 31 indicators aggregated into 3 pillars (impact, conditions, and complexity)3.60 Very lowVery high 5
Impact This measures the impact of the crisis itself, in terms of the scope of its geographical, and human effects.3.60 Very lowVery high 5
Humanitarian Conditions This measures the conditions and status of the people affected, including info about the distribution of severity.4.20 Very lowVery high 5
Complexity This measures the complexity of the crisis, in terms of factors that affect its mitigation or resolution.2.70 Very lowVery high 5
Access Constraints This measures the level of humanitarian access constraints.2.0No constraintsExtreme constraints
Iran hosts one of the largest refugee populations in the world, the majority of whom come from Afghanistan. Around 780,000 registered Afghan refugees and another 2.2 million who are either undocumented or have received a headcount laissez-passer live in Iran?. 96% of Afghan refugees live in urban areas, while the other 4% live in approximately 20 refugee settlements across the country?. Among all Afghans in Iran, 500,000–1,000,000 arrived in the country after the Taliban takeover in August 2021. Of those registered by UNHCR as newly arrived as of early 2022, 45% were under 18 and 58% were female. 23% of households were female-headed?.
In recent years, the Iranian Government has slowly introduced policies to increase the provision and renewal of Amayesh cards (refugee identity cards). Amayesh cards grant registered refugees conditional freedom of movement, temporary work permits, and access to the national education and healthcare systems. Primary healthcare is available for free for both refugees and undocumented people. Amayesh cardholders can also access Iran’s Universal Public Health Insurance Scheme. All children in Iran have access to primary and secondary education regardless of status?. In April 2022, the Iranian Ministry of Interior conducted a headcount of all undocumented Afghan nationals in Iran. The ministry registered approximately 2.2 million Afghan nationals, who received headcount laissez-passers valid until 22 October 2022?.
Despite the provision of documents, there have still been reports of the deportation of newly arrived Afghans in past years. An estimated 663,000 Afghans have also returned from Iran since the beginning of 2021 because of lost work and wages, discrimination, movement restrictions, and challenges in accessing medical services?. These issues might be attributed to the economic decline in Iran resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of documentation leading to a loss of livelihood or involuntarily return?.
The situation for Afghan refugees in Iran is becoming increasingly difficult. Since January 2023, over 250,000 refugees returned to Afghanistan from Iran, at least half of them facing some form of coercion. Displaced Afghan people face protection risks, including family separation, violence, and persecution. The situation is particularly unpredictable for undocumented people, who have limited access to services. The process of renewing documentation for refugees has also become more complicated, putting documented refugees at risk of becoming undocumented. Access to education has been impeded by the lack of documentation, affordability, and child labour. The situation is compounded by the political and economic situation in Iran, where social unrest and inflation (64% in March 2023) are making it difficult for refugees to meet their basic needs. Limited livelihood opportunities and restricted access to employment have lowered purchasing power and increased protection risks from negative coping strategies. Afghan refugees in Iran face discrimination and growing resentment caused by economic pressure and perceived competition for jobs. Despite Iran's history of being inclusive to refugees, recent reports show the mistreatment towards Afghan refugees by both government officials and civilians, including physical abuse and wrongful detention. ?
Iran faced moderate humanitarian access constraints in the past six months, scoring 2/5 in ACAPS’ Humanitarian Access Index. The humanitarian access situation has improved from the last assessment because of an improvement in asylum seeking procedures and the registration of more than two million undocumented Afghans.
For more information, you can consult our latest Global Humanitarian Access Overview – December 2022.
Protection: forced deportation remains a risk. Since 2021, an estimated 65% of all newly arrived Afghan asylum seekers were deported back to Afghanistan?. Given the increase in cross-border movements, there are needs in protection, which involves expanding access to the asylum system and documentation?.
Livelihoods: Afghan refugees are only eligible for conditional work permits limited to 87 types of employment, primarily in construction, agriculture, and other vocational industries. These sectors often provide seasonal work and are particularly vulnerable to economic sanctions on Iran?. Many Afghan refugees engage in the informal economy, wherein they rely on unstable daily labour and lack social safety nets should they not find job documentation ?.
Shelter and WASH: the majority of displacements from Afghanistan are happening through informal routes and crossing points into Iran’s eastern border provinces. The situation is creating needs in site preparation and construction, mainly in the eastern provinces of Balochistan and Sistan, Razavi Khorasan, and South Khorasan?.
Food and NFIs: since the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, the high number of new arrivals has created additional needs for in-kind food and NFIs?.
Iran is exposed to multiple natural hazards, including earthquakes, droughts, floods, and locust infestations. These hazards disrupt the economy and people’s livelihoods?.
More than one-third of the 877 urban centres in Iran are in flood-prone areas. In 2019, flooding affected more than ten million people in 25 of the 31 provinces of the country?.
Iran is one of the most seismically active countries with three active fault lines. Almost 77% of urban centres are in high-earthquake-risk areas (with a risk of magnitude 6–8 earthquakes). In October 2022, a magnitude 5.4 earthquake hit northwestern Iran, injuring more than 500 people and damaging 500 houses?. In recent years, the earthquake that has caused the highest humanitarian needs and most significant destruction in Iran happened in 2003. The magnitude 6.5 earthquake killed more than 41,000 people, injured more than 30,000, and destroyed 87% of the buildings in Bam city, leaving 75,000 people homeless that year?.