Afghan Refugees in Iran

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Forced Displacement and NGOs in Asia and the Pacific

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Book Chapter

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Over 80 million people have been forced to leave their homes by mid-2020, and among them are over 26 million refugees who have passed an international border to seek protection. Approximately one in every ten refugees worldwide are from Afghanistan, and Iran is one of the main host countries providing protection for this group of forcibly displaced individuals. Afghans have been fleeing to Iran, the neighbouring country of Afghanistan, to seek protection since the early 1980s. This chapter discusses the role of national non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) as well as humanitarian agencies during the past 40 years in providing support for this population and assuring their access to health, education, livelihood, and legal rights and protection in Iran. These organizations and agencies have played a critical role in providing services, and more importantly, in advocacy for policy change over the years to enhance the quality of life for Afghan refugees, documented immigrants, and under-documented Afghans in Iran. Among the major achievements of the NGOs, INGOs, and humanitarian agencies in Iran are securing universal health insurance for Afghan refugees, assuring access to primary education for under-documented Afghan children, and lobbying to change the law to grant citizenship to the children of Iranian mothers married to Afghans. As a developing country, Iran has limited resources; therefore, the role of NGOs, INGOs, and humanitarian agencies has been and will remain vital in shouldering the responsibility of protecting forcibly displaced Afghans.

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