Iran is one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. It has been grappling with the new virus outbreak since February 20. As of March 29, the virus has claimed more than 2,000 lives and infected more than 30,000 people including a number of senior officials in the country, wfp.org reported.
“We’re extremely grateful to the government and people of Japan for their generous support of our emergency operations in Iran,” said WFP Representative and Country Director in the Islamic Republic of Iran Negar Gerami. “Our emergency response capacity and deep-field presence will ensure that the funds are utilized in an agile and timely manner while addressing the needs of vulnerable people and supporting our humanitarian partner at this critical time.”
WFP will use 60 percent of the contribution to purchase a three-month supply of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for more than 5,000 staff and volunteers from the Iranian Red Crescent Society who is responsible for screening people at city entry points. PPEs include surgical masks, N95 masks and coverall gowns which will be airlifted into Iran from the United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot in Dubai within coming days.
The remaining 40 percent of the contribution will go towards supporting 31,000 Afghan and Iraqi refugees living in settlements across the country. Refugees will receive food assistance to ensure that the food needs of this vulnerable group are maintained at an acceptable level during the outbreak. WFP will use a small portion of the funds to conduct personal hygiene training for school children and their families in refugee settlements.
H.E. Mitsugu Saito, Japanese ambassador to Iran said, “Japan, as a close friend of Iran for long time, seriously concerns the present COVID-19 outbreak in Iran. Considering such a serious COVID-19 outbreak in Iran, the Government of Japan has decided to support the urgent need of countermeasures to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in Iran for not only Iran but also the rest of the world. In this regard, Government of Japan supports operations/activities by the international organizations to fight against the virus in Iran. I do hope this contribution can support the further implementation of effective projects to control the outbreak of COVID-19 in Iran.”
WFP has been providing assistance to refugees in Iran since the arrival of the first asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Iraq in the late 1980s. Although its operations in Iran are mostly focused on assisting refugees, WFP can also work with its partner, the Iranian Red Crescent Society, to bolster the Government’s emergency response capacity. Following major floods in March 2019 and January 2020, the government of Iran called upon WFP to support flood response efforts in Khuzestan, Lorestan and Sistan and Baluchestan provinces.