TEHRAN (Iran News) – The Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) has asked the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to provide 2 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to be used for Afghan refugees.
The population of Afghan immigrants residing in Iran is about two to three million, some of whom sometimes have problems with identity cards or do not have identification codes, IRCS head Karim Hemmati said.
The Ministry of Interior is trying to provide an identification code for these people so that they can receive the vaccine, he added.
“We requested the Red Cross to provide us with two million doses of vaccine for this target group, but so far, no consignment has been delivered to the country for the refugees,” he explained.
“If these people are among our priority groups, they will be vaccinated. For example, if an Afghan national is part of the medical staff in Iran, they will be vaccinated,” he noted.
At the end of 2018, Iran hosted close to one million refugees, making it the sixth-largest refugee host country in the world. The country was also the eighth largest refugee-hosting country in the world in 2019, hosting 951,142 Afghan refugees and 28,268 Iraqi refugees, according to the UNHCR.
One of the largest and most protracted urban refugee populations in the world is living in Iran; about 97 percent of refugees live in urban and semi-urban areas, while three percent are residing in 20 refugee resorts run by the UNHCR’s main government counterpart.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, undocumented Afghans have access to free primary health services and similarly free COVID-19 related testing, treatment, and hospitalization, just like nationals.
Some 120,000 refugees residing in Iran are now covered by health insurance, According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Despite the challenges, Iran has continued to generously give refugees access to education and health services. Iran is one of the handfuls of countries in the world that offer refugees the option to enroll in national health insurance for essential secondary and tertiary public health services in the same way as Iranian nationals.
The national insurance scheme allows for free COVID-19 treatment and hospitalization. It also subsidizes the cost of surgeries, dialysis, radiology, laboratory tests, outpatient care, and more.