Iranian Refugees Volunteer to Produce Masks for COVID-19 Efforts

Photo: WFP/Amin Roshan
World Food Program USA
Published April 1, 2020

As more than 175 countries struggle to stem the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Iran has been one of the hardest hit. With over 91,000 confirmed cases as of April 27th, the demand for masks, Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies is high. To help fight this pandemic, refugees have volunteered to sew masks and provide them to their communities. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is helping to make their work possible.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, these tailoring workshops were set up by WFP as a skills-training and income-generating activity for refugees in the Sarvestan settlement, Fars province. Those two vital services are otherwise hard to come by for people who’ve been displaced by violence. Now WFP has quickly adapted to the new reality brought on by COVID-19 and will use the space and the sewing machines to produce much-needed masks for the community.

At a time when the whole world is facing the same threat, refugees in the Sarvestan settlement are stepping up to help by volunteering their time and skills. It’s an act of selflessness that is a testament to our shared humanity. For a group of people that often has no choice but to rely on the generosity of others, more than 100 refugees have come forward to give back to their community. More than 50 people at a time are working in two shifts. The masks are used not only for themselves, but throughout their entire province.

With the support of its donors, WFP has been able to facilitate these critical job opportunities. Starting around March 15th, all workshops were sanitized and set up to produce masks, including fabric, templates and equipment. From the start, all refugees entering the workshop have taken the utmost precautionary measures to avoid virus transmission, including hand washing and regular temperature checks. They are now able to participate in an activity which is not only beneficial to themselves but also to the wider health care and humanitarian community.

Here’s what you can do today to help:

  • Visit our coronavirus hub for all the latest news
  • Donate to WFP’s lifesaving work here or text WFPUSA to 243-725