UN refugees chief warns of ‘greater suffering, instability’ in Afghanistan
Kabul, Sep 16 (EFE).- UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi has warned of “greater suffering, instability, and displacement” in Afghanistan as he concluded a three-day visit to the country on tenterhooks since the Islamist Taliban seized power in Kabul last month.
At the end of his Afghan tour, Grandi appealed for urgent and sustained support for people in the country and for refugees who have fled abroad, the UN Refugee Agency said in a statement.
“The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan remains desperate,” said Grandi.
The UN agency noted that before the events that unfolded over the past few weeks, more than 18 million Afghans required urgent humanitarian assistance.
Over 3.5 million have fled from their homes and remain inside the country, including some 630,000 uprooted this year.
“And if public services and the economy collapse, we will see even greater suffering, instability, and displacement both within and outside the country,” Grandi warned.
“The international community must therefore engage with Afghanistan – and quickly – in order to prevent a much bigger humanitarian crisis that will have not only regional, but global implications.”
Grandi met with interim Afghan government officials in Afghanistan during his stay in the country.
He said Taliban officials committed to provide security and enable humanitarian access throughout the country recognized their needs.
He said he discussed with government officials critical issues like ensuring that women staff can return safely to work, the importance of education for all Afghan children, and the safety and security of all Afghans, including minorities.
“I encouraged the interim government to reiterate these important commitments publicly, and to ensure that they are upheld in practice,” he added.
Grandi oversaw a convoy of trucks at a UNHCR warehouse in Kabul that arrived from Pakistan via the Torkham border crossing.
The trucks carried thousands of tents and other relief items for displaced Afghan families.
UNHCR has supported more than 300,000 displaced people inside Afghanistan with relief items and cash assistance this year.
The agency said it was rapidly scaling up its operations to help more people ahead of the fast-approaching winter.
In Mazar-e-Sharif, in northern Afghanistan, Grandi also inaugurated a carpet workshop that employs 45 workers supporting hundreds of family members.
While the current situation in Afghanistan has so far not prompted a mass refugee exodus, the agency appealed to donors to scale up support for millions of Afghan refugees already being hosted in Pakistan and Iran and for those who may need to seek international protection in the future.
Grandi praised Pakistan and Iran for “generously” hosting Afghan refugees for more than 40 years.
“Now, perhaps more than ever, the international community needs to do more to provide humanitarian and development support to these refugees and their host communities, and to scale up the resettlement of Afghans already in those countries.”
Grandi will travel to Pakistan for talks with government officials and review the refugee response in the country. EFE