UN High Commissioner discusses Afghan refugee crisis with Taliban
Kabul, Mar 15 (EFE).- The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Italy’s Filippo Grandi, met with a Taliban delegation Tuesday to discuss the critical situation of internally displaced persons and refugees living in Afghanistan after the fundamentalists seized power on Aug. 15 last year.
“The best solution – we agreed – is that displaced people and refugees return home safely and voluntarily. To get there, trust must be built among them – which means security, rights, livelihoods and services for all,” tweeted Grandi after the meeting.
Grandi was accompanied by UN Deputy Special Representative, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, Ramiz Alakbarov, during the meeting with Afghan Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi, as they discussed ways to improve assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons in Afghanistan.
Grandi underlined that the current state of security in Afghanistan “has provided us with a good opportunity to work more closely with the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations, and we are pleased that 176,000 IDPs have returned to their homes in the past few months,” according to a tweet by the deputy spokesperson of the Taliban government, Inamaullah Samngani.
Moreover, he added that 55 districts and five major cities have been identified in Afghanistan that can contribute to improving the repatriation and reintegration of Afghan citizens.
Hanafi, on his part, expressed appreciation for the UN’s activities in Afghanistan and added that the Taliban government would cooperate in the return of refugees as security in Afghanistan has improved and human rights are safeguarded.
He also emphasized that humanitarian aid alone was not sufficient for refugees and internally displaced persons, who also need job opportunities that can be possible through the implementation of development projects throughout Afghanistan.
During his visit, Grandi also met with former Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, who stressed the importance of humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan amid one of the worst humanitarian and economic crises in its history.
Although the humanitarian crisis was already serious before the Taliban took control of Kabul in August, the situation worsened after the Islamists came to power.
According to a UN statement from September last year, before the Taliban took power in Afghanistan, more than 3.5 million people had been forced to leave their homes by the war, 630,000 of them in 2021 alone.
Regarding the return of Afghans to their country, a total of 120,341 people returned in 2022 – as of February-end -, compared to 1.2 million in 2021, the UN refugee agency reported this month.
This was Grandi’s second visit to Afghanistan since the Taliban took over. During his previous visit in September, he urged the international community for urgent and sustained support for Afghan refugees in the face of the exodus of millions of people who left the country after the fall of Kabul. EFE