Concluding a three-day visit to Afghanistan today, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, appealed for urgent and sustained support for Afghans inside the country and for refugees who have fled abroad.
“The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan remains desperate,” said Grandi.
Even prior to the events that unfolded over the past few weeks, more than 18 million Afghans required urgent humanitarian assistance. Over 3.5 million have been displaced from their homes by conflict and remain inside the country, including some 630,000 uprooted during 2021.
“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.”
During his visit to Kabul, Grandi met with the interim Afghan government, as well as some of the hundreds of UN and NGO staff that have stayed on the ground and maintained operations, despite the challenging circumstances.
Following his meetings with interim Afghan Ministers, Grandi said: “I welcomed their commitments to provide security and enable humanitarian access throughout the country. They recognized the needs and thanked the UN for providing help to Afghans.”
“We also discussed other 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.
During his visit, Grandi oversaw the arrival of a convoy of trucks at a UNHCR warehouse in Kabul that had arrived from Pakistan via the Torkham border crossing. The trucks were loaded with thousands of tents and other relief items for displaced Afghan families.
UNHCR has already supported more than 300,000 displaced people inside Afghanistan with relief items and cash assistance this year, and is 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 who are supporting hundreds of family members.
While the current situation in Afghanistan has so far not prompted a large refugee exodus, UNHCR is continuing its appeal to donors to scale up support for for millions of Afghan refugees already being hosted in Pakistan and Iran, and for those who may need to seek international protection in future.
“Pakistan and Iran have generously hosted 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,” said Grandi.
The High Commissioner will now travel to Pakistan where he will hold talks with Government officials and review the refugee response in the country.