The United Nations has stepped up the support for refugees in Iran during the coronavirus outbreak, said its refugee agency in a statement on March 15. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated that, in coordination with the government agency, it has started the distribution of essential items such as soap and disposable paper towels to around 7,500 households living in refugee settlements across Iran.
“We stand in solidarity with the Iranian people and authorities and are fully mobilized to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate the impact on the most vulnerable, including refugees,” said Ivo Freijsen, UNHCR Representative in Iran.
The UNHCR said that the refugees in Iran have access to primary health care services and are included in the national COVID-19 response and the current actions have been taken to address the critical and urgent lack of hygiene materials in Iran. According to the UN agency, it needs $6.3 million for its COVID-19 emergency measures, which is part of the UN Country Team’s COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan.
“UNHCR is fully committed and will continue to work with local authorities and partners to assess the needs of, and further support, refugees, including those whose livelihoods may have been impacted by the virus”, said Freijsen.
Iran has been heavily hit by the coronavirus crisis with almost 15,000 confirmed cases and 853 deaths, the most after China and Italy. It has sought financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help combat coronavirus. On March 12, Iranian Foreign Minister took to Twitter to ask for financial assistance from the IMF and urged Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva to provide immediate access.
IMF's @KGeorgieva has stated that countries affected by #COVID19 will be supported via Rapid Financial Instrument. Our Central Bank requested access to this facility immediately.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) March 12, 2020
IMF/IMF Board should adhere to Fund's mandate, stand on right side of history & act responsibly.