1 November 1998
International staff: 8 National staff: 40 Refugee assistance remains priority Iran hosts one of the largest refugee communities in the world: approximately 2.2 million, most of whom are Afghan and Iraqi Shiites and Kurds. Only 5 percent live in official camps. MSF's assistance to refugees in Khorassan province continues to focus mainly on Gulshahr, close to the Afghan border in the northeast. MSF supports the health clinic serving the population of 100,000 Afghans and Iranians and operates mobile clinics among refugees living in the most under-privileged parts of Gulshahr (Gorghi, Hemat Abad and Al Tymor). Since July 1997, a team of 12 Afghan volunteers trained by MSF is providing a health education programme that makes it possible to evaluate the refugees' health status and their access to care. School visits are also included in this programme. The team ensures referrals to other levels of health care and follow-up on patients, and also supplies drugs, medical material, family planning and training. In November 1997, an MSF team began a medical programme among 30,000 Iraqi refugees and a community of 40,000 Afghans in Khuzestan province, in the southwest. A private clinic was opened in Ahwaz in February 1998, in collaboration with an Iraqi organisation, which should improve access to preventive and curative care for the refugee population. The programme includes building renovations, recruitment of local medical staff, preventive, curative and family planning activities, referrals, supplies of drugs and medical materials and management of the pharmacy. A sanitation project is also running.