WFP welcomed on Tuesday a first ever donation of US$7,000 from Qatar Airways to WFP’s activities in Iran that assist over 30,000 Afghan and Iraqi refugees in the country.
“We are pleased to have Qatar Airways as one of our first private sector donors in Iran. The people we assist rank among the poorest refugees in the country, and this contribution will help us in meeting their basic food needs. We look forward to the future development of our partnership with the private sector,” said Robert Hauser, WFP’s Representative in Iran.
WFP’s operation in Iran includes general food assistance to 4,824 Iraqi and 26,396 Afghan refugees, and an Oil-for-Girls-Education programme in refugee camps, which provides 2,212 girl students and female teachers with take-home rations of vegetable oil as an incentive for attending school regularly.
Joining the fight
The US$9 million operation depends entirely on voluntary contributions but so far has received US$8 million of the total funds needed, mostly from government donors.
“Qatar Airways is fully aware of the important role of WFP humanitarian operations world- wide and we are proud of joining the fight against hunger,” said Martin Sprongl, Qatar Airways Area Manager in Iran.
In 2003, WFP decided to broaden its funding base by reaching out to private donors.
In May 2006, WFP initiated an awareness-raising campaign with Pasargadae Gallery whereby a percentage of art sales benefit WFP projects in Iran.
In September of the same year, Novin Saffron Company, a leading producer and exporter of high quality Iranian saffron, became the first private company to sign on to work with WFP as a partner, with a cash donation and percentage of annual sales benefiting WFP projects.
To date, government donors to WFP’s operation in Iran are Japan (US$5 million), Switzerland (US$ 757,000), United Kingdom (US$313,000) and Australia (US$158,000).
Iran has been home to refugees for over 25 years and is currently hosting some 950,000 Afghan and Iraqi refugees, the majority of whom are Afghans.
UNHCR and the Governments of Iran and Afghanistan have been actively promoting the repatriation of the refugees for the past four years, resulting in the spontaneous and assisted repatriation of more than 1.6 million Afghans since the start of the project in April 2002.
The majority of the Iraqi refugees residing in the camps repatriated spontaneously in 2002, leaving less than 5,000 remaining in the camps.