Iran, Islamic Republic of
Iran, Islamic Republic of - 1.1 Humanitarian Background

Disasters, Conflicts and Migration

Natural Disasters



Comments / Details



Iran is susceptible to drought primarily due to its geographical location and topography, characterized by arid and semiarid climates with significant desert expanses. The presence of mountain ranges, such as the Zagros and Alborz Mountains, obstructs moist air masses, leading to low precipitation levels in central and eastern regions. The country's diverse climates include arid, semiarid, and cold desert types, with the central plateau experiencing extremes in temperature. Iran faces water resource challenges exacerbated by population growth, agricultural demands, and overexploitation, contributing to groundwater depletion and heightened drought risks.



In the UNDP's report on reducing disaster risk, Iran is ranked number one in the list of countries with the largest average number of earthquakes per year with a magnitude equal to or greater than 5.5 on the Richter scale. It is also ranked one of the highest in terms of relative vulnerability and also in terms of the number of people killed per year as a result of earthquakes. The seismicity of Iran and its general vulnerability to earthquakes have been graphically and catastrophically illustrated by the Bam earthquake in December 2003, in which thousands of people were killed, and in the May 2004 earthquake in the Alborz Mountains, an event that magnitude equal to or greater than 5.5 on the Richter shook Tehran and produced 155 aftershocks in three days. The particular geological setting of Iran means that it is particularly prone to shallow (<10 km deep) earthquakes. In recent years, there have been some major earthquakes hit the north-west of Iran (Azerbaijan province) and south-east (Sistan & Baluchistan province). An earthquake registered 7.8 on the Richter scale occurred in Sistan & Baluchistan province in south-eastern Iran in April 2013. In November 2017, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 occurred on the Iran-Iraq border which had 600 casualties on the Iran and Iraq side.

In January 2023, an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 struck hit the city of Khoy in West Azerbaijan province. Approximately 70 villages were reported to have damage. The affected area witnessed damage to buildings and infrastructure, along with power outages in certain neighborhoods.



Iran was one of the first countries that face the COVID-19 epidemic. As of 28 February 2022, Iran has reported more than 6.6 million cases and approximately 140,000 deaths.


Extreme Temperatures


Iran is renowned for its diverse climate, and various regions experience extreme temperatures during the summer season (25 June–25 August). One notable area with extremely high temperatures is the Lut Desert, also known as Dasht-e Lut. Located in south-eastern Iran, the Lut Desert has recorded some of the highest ground temperatures on Earth. In 2005, NASA's Aqua satellite recorded surface temperatures in the Lut Desert as high as 70.7 degrees Celsius.

Furthermore, several southern parts of Iran, including cities like Bandar Abbas, Bushehr, and Abadan, are characterized by extremely high temperatures during the summer months. These areas, located along the Persian Gulf, experience scorching weather influenced by the warm waters of the Gulf, leading to hot and humid conditions. The city of Bandar Abbas, located in the province of Hormozgan, and Bushehr, along with Abadan in the Khuzestan Province, are known for their challenging climates, making summers particularly intense in terms of heat.



Torrential rain and storms cause floods in most parts of Iran each year. It mostly causes severe damage to the villages, access roads, infrastructures of cities, agricultural lands & farms. The last flash flood occurred in Kerman province and affected the major cities of the province and caused damage to the villages. More than 2000 people relocated and most of the infrastructures were fully damaged.

Heavy rains and flash flooding that began in March 2019 have affected 23 of 31 provinces across Iran. The flooding has killed 70 people and injured 613 people according to the authorities. It is estimated that 12.5 million people have been affected. Initial information indicates that 170,000 people in two provinces have been displaced. While information regarding humanitarian needs is still limited, the most affected sectors are reportedly in water, sanitation and hygiene, health, shelter, and agriculture.

Flash floods and mudslides triggered by heavy rains in July 2022 have led to deaths and injuries in Imamzadeh Davood, a shrine in north-western Tehran.

The ongoing rainfall since mid-July has caused widespread floods and landslides across 26 provinces, resulting in at least 95 deaths, 200 missing, and numerous injuries.  The Iranian Red Crescent Society has assisted over 78,000 affected individuals, transported 3,562 to safety, and provided emergency shelter to more than 11,212 people. Floodwaters have impacted 1,428 villages, disrupted 162 transportation routes, and destroyed over 20,000 homes.

Insect Infestation


Each year Iran faces Lucas invasion to the provinces in south of Iran. Between 400 to 600 thousand hectares of Iran lands gets affected by the Lucas attack.



Wildfires in several natural habitats of Iran each year destroys thousands of hectares of Iran jungles. From 2011 to 2018 near 125,000 hectares of Iran jungles are destroyed by fire.

Furthermore, during 2011 to 2021, more than 22,100 incidents of wildfires occurred in the country's forests and grasslands. Many of the wildfires in the country's forest areas have occurred accidentally and due to human negligence.

High Winds


Every year, During Spring (Feb – end of April) there are seasonal high winds in south-eastern parts of Iran especially Sistan - Balouchistan province near to the Pakistan border and southern parts of Kerman. 

Other Comments


Man-Made Issues

Civil Strife


From 2018 to 2021, follow to deteriorating of economic condition, several protests happened against the expensive living costs and unfair payment conditions. Most of the protests were peaceful but in several cases, it also turned to civil unrest.

In September 2022, protests erupted in Iran after the death of a girl called  Mahsa Amini, who had been arrested for violating the hijab law.  Demands for increased women's rights drove the unrest for several months.

International Conflict


After the exit of the US from JCPOA in May 2018, the international relations of Iran with Western countries deteriorated and in 2019 and 2020 resulted in several conflicts between Iran and US.
In 2021 after the US presidential election, Iran and JCPOA members started a new session of negotiations for the revival of JCPOA.

The deadly bombing in Kerman City, targeting a commemorative ceremony for Qasem Soleimani, occurred on January 3, 2024, marking the fourth anniversary of Soleimani's death. The attack, claimed by the Islamic State group (IS), resulted in some fatalities and numerous injuries.

Following the terrorist attacks of Kerman in 2024, Iran launched missile strikes on neighboring Pakistan and Iraq, drawing condemnations from both countries and heightening concerns of escalating tensions in the Middle East

On January 18, 2024, Pakistan conducted military strikes inside Iran, targeting Baloch militants in the city of Saravan. The strikes resulted in Iranian officials reporting the deaths of nine foreign nationals, including women and children. The following day, Pakistan's caretaker prime minister, Anwaar ul Haq Kakar, announced the restoration of normal diplomatic relations with Iran.

Internally Displaced Persons


Iran faces severe challenges related to water resources, including rising demand, salinization, groundwater overexploitation, and increased drought frequency. The ongoing drought has placed 2 to 20 million people at high to medium risk of drought-related impacts. In recent years and lack of water in the villages has resulted in lots of families leaving villages and moving to main cities. It is expected that in the next 30 years, lots of people will leave the south and southeast of Iran due to drought.  

Refugees Present


Iran hosts one of the largest refugee populations in the world, the majority of whom come from Afghanistan. Around 780,000 registered Afghan refugees and another 2.6 million who are either undocumented or have received a headcount laissez-passer live in Iran. 96% of Afghan refugees live in urban areas, while the other 4% live in approximately 20 refugee settlements across the country. Among all Afghans in Iran, 500,000–1,000,000 arrived in the country after the Taliban takeover in August 2021.

In recent years, the Iranian Government has slowly introduced policies to increase the provision and renewal of Amayesh cards. Amayesh cards grant registered refugees conditional freedom of movement, temporary work permits, and access to the national education and healthcare systems. Primary healthcare is available for free for both refugees and undocumented people. Amayesh cardholders can also access Iran’s Universal Public Health Insurance Scheme. All children in Iran have access to primary and secondary education regardless of their status.

In April 2022, the Iranian Ministry of Interior conducted a headcount of all undocumented Afghan nationals in Iran. The provision of headcount laissez-passers was initially valid until 22 October 2022 but has been extended until 20 April 2023

Landmines / UXO Present


In areas near the border of Iran-Iraq. There are landmines remaining from the 1980s during the Iran/Iraq war. 

Most of Iran’s estimated 16 million landmines lie in the Iranian provinces bordering Iraq – Ilam, Kermanshah, Khuzestan, Kurdistan, and West Azerbaijan.

Other Comments



For a more detailed database on disasters by country, please see the Centre for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters Country Profile.


Seasonal Effects on Logistics Capacities

Seasonal Effects on Transport

Transport Type

Time Frame

Comments / Details

Primary Road Transport

November to February 

The mountainous regions in the northern and western parts of the country are affected by snowfalls. This increases the risk of accidents and slows down traffic. During that season the vehicles are equipped with chains, which are used if and when necessary. The road maintenance services are equipped with snowploughs. 

Secondary Road Transport

November to February

Roads leading to Afghan & Iraqi refugee camps are affected by snowfalls. Tehran-Qazvin-Zanjan-Tabriz highway (the main route to the west-northwest of Iran) is mostly covered by snow during the wintertime. Furthermore, the side roads, destined for the refugee settlements in the west of Iran (Uromiyeh-Kermanshah/Zanjan-Sardasht), are also affected by the cold weather of winter

Rail Transport

May to August

Lack of wagons due to less importation of cotton from CIS countries to Iran. During Sep to April more wagons are available. Also, during the Iranian New Year (March) there might be wagon congestion or less availability of wagons. Priority is being given to passengers rather than cargo.

Air Transport

25 Sep to end of October (Hadj period)

The whole year for Najaf

Tehran has two main airports, Mehrabad and Imam Khomeini (IKA). Mehrabad is located inside Tehran and is used for domestic flights and Hadj. IKA is used for international flights. During Hadj time there is congestion in Mehrabad Airport and recently in IKA (Imam Khomeini Airport) for airlines to Najaf. 

Waterway Transport




One of the main transit highways is from the southern ports (Bandar Abbas, Shahid Rajaiee Port) to Tehran. This main road starts from Bandar Abbas and passes through Kerman, Yazd, and Isfahan and reaches Tehran at the northern side of Iran. Most cargo transit via this road (from port to customs and visa-versa) and during the Iranian new year (March) there is a congestions of trucks. In addition, this situation is similar in most roads and provinces based on holiday travels of the Iranian population (Especially to the north of Iran to the Caspian Sea).


As a Muslim country there are several travels to holy shrines via the two main airports of Tehran. Mehrabad as a domestic airport is in congestion for travellers to Mashhad (one of the main provinces in Iran the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza is located there).  


Seasonal Effects on Storage and Handling

Activity Type

Time Frame

Comments / Details



No effects



No effects




Capacity and Contacts for In-Country Emergency Response


The strengths in national capacity include the Comprehensive Plan of Relief and Rescue and institutions such as the Disaster Task Forces, the “auxiliary provinces”, and the existing role/responsibility framework. 

In 2008 under the new National Disaster Management Law passed by the Parliament, the National Disaster Management Organization (NDMO) was formed in order to utilize the national, regional, and local capacities to cope with the disasters triggered by natural hazards as well as creating an integrated management system for planning and coordinating executive activities in a cohesive manner.
To achieve concentrated information dissemination and supervision over different phases of disaster management as well as recovery of disaster-stricken areas has been another objective of the establishment of NDMO. 

The objectives of NDMO are to be achieved by utilizing the entire required potentials and means about ministries, governmental and public institutions and private sector, banks, insurance companies, military forces, non–governmental institutes, Islamic councils, municipalities, public associations, and organizations under the auspices of the Supreme Leader of the country.

To coordinate the activities of the organizations and institutions affiliated with the legislative, executive, and judiciary organs, the Armed Forces, and the other institutions and agencies for enacting regulations and standards governing the four phases of disaster management, the Supreme Council of the National Disaster Management Organization is formed. The Supreme  Council is chaired by the President of the country and its membership includes 13 Ministers, the Mayor of Tehran, Commander of Armed Forces, one of the deputies of the Speaker of the Islamic Consultative Assembly (the Parliament), First deputy of the Judiciary, Heads of Management and Planning Organization, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Corporation, Head of Red Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Imam Khomeini Relief Committee, Head of State Meteorological Organization, Head of Housing Foundation of the Islamic Revolution, as well as the Head of  NDMO.

A Disaster Management Coordination Council has been also formed under the chairmanship of the National Disaster Management Organization Head and membership of the representatives deputizing the related organizations and organs in order to coordinate activities regarding the four phases of disaster management including prevention and risk reduction, preparedness, emergency response and recovery.

Disaster Management Coordination Council at provincial level is formed under the chairmanship of Governor Generals and Governors in the provinces and cities respectively. Its membership includes the entire related organizations.

Tehran Disaster Management Organization (TDMO), affiliated to the Municipality of Tehran, is the focal point for managing and coordinating all those issues related to the probable natural disasters threatening city of Tehran. There are 300 neighbourhood established in all 22 districts of Tehran as the evacuation places for the state of emergency.


For more information on government contact details, please see the following link: 4.1 Iran Government Contact List.


Humanitarian Community

Ministries: Each ministry based on its mandate is the custodian to provide the humanitarian services to the public. Ministries have an international affair section that are responsible for coordinating the humanitarian projects with UN agencies and INGOS.

NDMO: National Disaster Management Organisation is the custodian of responding to disasters.
In case of necessity, it will coordinate the humanitarian support between different national organisations such as IRCS, military forces, NGOs and also international aids that would be provided by UN and INGOs.

IRCS: Red Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran is currently the country's main humanitarian organisation and one of 190 members of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. It has branches in the entire country, and it is the first responder to disasters. It has thousands of human recourses consisting of hundreds of volunteers and it has a well-equipped fleet consisting of different types of cars, trucks and helicopters. International humanitarian organisations have a close collaboration with IRCS and in the time of natural disasters, usually international in-kind donations would be submitted to IRCS or would be handed over to beneficiaries by the support of IRCS.

UN agencies: Resident Coordinator office in Tehran as the head of the country team (UNCT), the UN Resident Coordinator (RC) guides and supports the work of the UNCT, ensuring effective coordination and cooperation within the mandates of each UN entity. UNHCR is the biggest UN agency in Iran with the main office in Tehran and sub offices in Kerman, Shiraz and Mashhad cities. The rest of the UN agencies only have one office in Tehran. Coordination of humanitarian projects for UN agencies is coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and based on the nature of each project and with the facilitation of MFA, they would be connected to each ministry. The current list of UN entities in Iran includes: FAO, IOM, OCHA, UN-HABITAT, UNAIDS, UNAMA, UNAMI, UNDP, UNDSS, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNIC, UNICEF, UNIDO, UNODC, WFP and WHO.

ICRC: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the Islamic Republic of Iran works in partnership with the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) and other Iranian organizations and bodies in the fields of tracing, physical rehabilitation, and international relief efforts.

INGOS: Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Relief International (RI), and INTERSOS are the three main international NGOs in Iran that provide different humanitarian supports to refugees and local people in Iran.

BAFIA: The Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants Affairs (BAFIA) works as part of the Ministry of Interior and is responsible for management and coordination of all affairs that are related to refuges, including the international helps. All UN agencies and INGOs that are providing humanitarian support for refugees, will be coordinated by BAFIA.

NOM:  The National Organization of Migration (NoM) in Iran is a government agency tasked with addressing immigration issues. Its functions include policy development and technical cooperation to support the Iranian government in managing migration effectively, collaborating with UN Agencies and INGOs. NoM facilitates assisted voluntary returns for vulnerable migrants and refugees.


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