For many decades, Iran has been host to a large number of refugees from Afghanistan. The Afghan refugee population reached its peak in 2002, with nearly two million refugees. Despite the voluntary return of hundreds of thousands of refugees, the number of Afghan refugees in Iran is still as high as 800,000, making it one of the most protracted refugee situations in the world.

In addition to the large number of Afghan refugees, Iran also experienced a large influx of Iraqi refugees in the 1990s, with over half a million Iraqis seeking refuge. As of 2013, the number of Iraqi refugees in Iran has declined to about 42,000 refugees from Iraq.

Over 97 percent of all refugees in Iran reside in urban or semi-urban areas.

Legal Situation:
  • Iran is a state party to 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, with reservations on articles 17 (wage-earning employment), 23 (public relief), 24 (labor legislation and social security) and 26 (freedom of movement).