Photo: WFP/Laila Fakori/2022


The Situation

Iran is an upper middle-income country with a population of 83 million. The country hosts the world’s fourth largest refugee community, the majority of whom have come from Afghanistan and Iraq. Limited job opportunities and access to farming land mean that many refugees living in settlements are not able to meet their food needs.

Iran is one of the countries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. WFP is supporting national response efforts as well as continuing to assist refugees living in settlements across the country.

WFP's Work

WFP has been assisting refugees in Iran with food since 1987. However, the organization is now replacing most of its food assistance with cash. While families continue to receive a small amount of wheat flour, the bulk of the assistance is handed out in cash which can be spent in shops and markets inside the settlements. This diversifies refugees’ diets, boosts the local economy and increases the efficiency of assistance.

WFP is also supporting activities that support the livelihoods of refugees and equip them with the skills to rebuild their lives once they return to their countries. These activities specifically target women, whose economic participation is generally very limited due to restrictive socio-cultural norms.

  • General food distribution: WFP provides refugees living in 20 settlements across Iran with food and cash assistance. This covers 80% of hungry families’ food needs, rising up to 100% for women-headed households with no source of income.
  • Livelihood support: WFP provides refugees – especially women – with skills trainings to improve their employment opportunities in both Iran and their home countries. Participants receive $350 to purchase equipment and material to start their own business.