United Nations Iran
سازمان ملل متحد در ایران
UNIranLogoIranFlag larg

Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 01 March 2017

01 March 2017 - A Resurrection in the Middle East Life has returned to a dying salt lake in northwest Iran

By Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment, and Gary Lewis, UN Resident Coordinator in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Lake Urmia was once the second largest saltwater lake in the world. But years of man-made disruption — from 60 years of dam building to the massive overuse of feeder rivers — has diverted the natural flow of sweetwater from the surrounding basin into the salty lake.

As a result, the lake simply dried out. It died at the hands of humans.

But the effort to fix what had been broken is succeeding. There is water now. Not nearly enough, but much more than before.

The lake is coming back. This revival is the result of an immensely successful collaborative effort involving many players — some Iranian, some foreign.

We visited Lake Urmia this week to see the progress.

Four years ago, the landscape was barren.

20170301 opedgary02

In those days, standing on the flat, dead salt bed — which is what the exposed bottom of the lake had become — was like standing on a different planet. The water had gone. But the wind hadn’t. And that gusting wind whipped up the exposed salt granules, blowing them into the face and the lungs of anyone near the lake, and onto the surrounding farmlands.

Imagine what living in this dust bowl would be like — day-in and day-out — for the residents and farmers in the Lake Urmia Basin.

People would develop cancers from the poor quality of air. Crops would die from salted soil.

And as farmers drilled wells deeper into the aquifers at the side of the lake, the groundwater would become depleted, allowing saltwater to seep in.

It was becoming just like the situation in the similarly dried-out Aral Sea in Central Asia: people afflicted with allergies, respiratory diseases and cancers — crops failing — futures imperiled.

Fast forward four years. Our plane landed in Urmia on a crisp, clear February morning. There was talk of improvement. But best to see things with your own eyes.

We approached the vast open expanse of lake bed when we saw the morning sun glimmering off something that was not there four years ago.

Water. Not deep. But enough to cover the salt granules. As we drove across the bridge which bisects the lake, the glimmer stretched out towards the rising sun.

Here is what it looked like in October 2013

20170301 opedgary03

20170301 opedgary04

20170301 opedgary05

20170301 opedgary06

Here is what we saw that morning.

20170301 opedgary07

20170301 opedgary08

20170301 opedgary09

It was an emotional experience. Right before us was proof that the environmental problems we create can be fixed.

There are three main reasons why this happened.

The first was engineering works that helped unblock and desilt the feeder rivers.

Second was the deliberate release of water from the dams in the surrounding hills.

Third, and most difficult of all to accomplish, was a change in how water was managed in the basin — especially among farmers.

This third approach — better water management — took considerable time and effort to achieve. But it appears here to stay. It took painstaking effort to get farmers to modify their agricultural techniques when growing wheat, barley, rapeseed, fruit and vegetables.

The new techniques are astonishingly simple: changing farm dimensions to make for smaller plots which retain water better; using trickle-irrigation instead of flooding fields; avoiding deep tillage; introducing drought-resistant crop strains; ploughing plant residue back into the soil rather than burning it.

Across the board, the crop yield — despite using less water — has also increased by 40 per cent. And the saved water can flow back into the lake, and replenish it.

The project to improve water management is being implemented by the United Nations, working closely with local farmers, provincial and national governments.

As we got on the plane to return home to Tehran, we thought of three lessons from this burgeoning success story.

First, Iran faces great environmental challenges that reflect those faced by many countries. But we can fix what we have broken.

Second, the public must be educated and speak out on the environment. The UN recently received a petition containing 1.7 million signatures in 2016, requesting action on Lake Urmia. The pressure has been relentless. Such pressure must continue — it must be welcomed and acted upon.

Third, these environmental problems cannot be solved if we act alone. The Lake Urmia response shows that it takes a team effort. Leadership by public authorities, engagement from local communities, and sometimes support from the international community, such as the UN and donor nations (such as Japan in this particular case), are all needed to do the trick.

Work remains to be done, but what has happened in Lake Urmia is an example to inspire us all — both inside and outside Iran.


اسفند 95 - دومین جلسه با شرکای راه حل های راهبردی برای پناهندگان افغانستانی در محل اداره کل امور اتباع و مهاجرین خارجی وزارت کشور

در طی پنج سال گذشته ، دولت جمهوری اسلامی ایران، کمیساریای عالی سازمان ملل متحد در امور پناهندگان و شرکای ملی و بین المللی از جمله سازمان های غیر دولتی و سازمان های بین المللی غیر دولتی حمایت خود از پناهندگان افغانستانی را به صورت پایدار تحت چارچوب برنامه چند ساله راه حل های راهبردی برای پناهندگان افغانستانی که در حال حاضر توسط" اقدامات گسترش تاب آوری و راه حل ها" تکمیل شده است ، تعریف می کنند.

راه‌حل‌های راهبردی برای پناهندگان افغانستانی برنامه چهار جانبه منطقه‌ای چندساله‌ای است که در سال 2012 بین دولت های جمهوری اسلامی ایران، افغانستان و پاکستان در راستای تضمین حمایت از پناهندگان افغانستانی و یافتن راه حل های مناسب برای آنها امضاء شده است. این برنامه در ایران شامل سرمایه گذاری در فعالیتهای آموزشی و بهداشت، توانمندسازی جوانان ، توسعه مهارت ها و فرصتهای معیشتی پناهندگان و همچنین تقویت فضای حمایتی در کشور است.

ادامه راه راه حل های راهبردی برای پناهندگان افغان  در برنامه اقدامات گسترش تاب آوری و راه حل های منطقه ای دیده می شود که پس ازسفر کمیساریای عالی سازمان ملل متحد به ایران و منطقه  در ماه ژوئن سال 2016 صورت گرفت. این اقدامات باعث ایجاد تاب آوری در میان پناهندگان افغانستانی، آوارگان داخلی، بازگشت کنندگان وجوامع میزبان و یافتن راه حل های نوآورانه برای وضعیت آنان شده است.این برنامه بر پایه 5 رکن اصلی عمل می‌نماید: (1) :دسترسی به حمایت (در چارجوب قانونی و سیاسی) (2) دسترسی به خدمات اولیه ، (3) توانمندسازی جوانان از طریق آموزش توسعه مهارت ها و معیشت، (4) حمایت از راه حل های راهبردی و (5) حمایت ، هماهننگی و مشارکت.

در پی اولین جلسه مشترک اداره کل اموراتباع و مهاجرین خارجی وکمیساریا درخصوص راه حلهای راهبردی برای پناهندگان افغانستانی که درتاریخ 5 مهر ماه سال جاری برگزار شد، مشترکا دومین جلسه با  شرکا در تاریخ 12 اسفند ماه 1395  صورت گرفت تا در خصوص اجرای اقدامات گسترش تاب آوری و راه حل ها و ارزیابی پیشرفت حاصله درمسیر اهداف این راهبرد و تقویت دسترسی به خدمات اولیه برای پناهندگان در ایران تبادل نظر نمایند.  




1 March 2017 - Second SSAR Partners Meeting Convened at BAFIA Premises

Over the past five years, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, UNHCR and national and international partners consisting of several NGOs and INGOs have firmly rooted their assistance to Afghan refugees in the regional, multi-year framework of the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR), which is now complemented by the addition of the Resilience and Solutions Measures. 

A quadripartite multi-year regional strategy between the governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran together with UNHCR, the SSAR, was launched in 2012. The strategy aims to ensure the protection of Afghan refugees in Iran whilst seeking to find durable solutions for them in the coming years. In Iran, this includes investing in their education and health, empowering the youth and expanding skills and livelihoods opportunities while ensuring protection and asylum space in the country.

The realignment of the SSAR is reflected in the regional Resilience and Solutions Measures which was launched following the UN High Commissioner’s visit to Iran and the region in June 2016. These measures contribute to building resilience among Afghan refugees, IDPs, returnees and host communities and to finding innovative solutions to their situations. They are articulated around five key areas of intervention: (1) access to protection (policy and legal framework), (2) access to basic services (3) youth empowerment through education, skills training and livelihood support (4) support for durable solutions and (5) advocacy, coordination and partnership.

As a follow up to the first joint BAFIA-UNHCR SSAR meeting held on 26 September 2016, BAFIA and UNHCR convened their second all partners meeting on 1 March to further discuss the implementation of the Resilience and Solutions Measures, and to monitor progress towards the strategy’s objectives in enhancing and improving access to basic services for refugees in Iran.

Subscribe to this RSS feed

UN Offices in Iran

News and Stories


UN Offices Stories

UN Offices Stories

About Us

Follow Us


Sign up to keep in touch!

Be the first to hear about our new stories and job vacancies from UN in Iran and our partners.

Check out our Privacy Policy & Terms of use
You can unsubscribe from email list at any time