Kabul, Afghanistan, 20 June 2021: Today, Sunday 20 June is the World Refugee Day, a day to acknowledge the experiences of the millions of people forced to flee violence and persecution, and to show our solidarity. The 2021 World Refugee Day theme is: Together we heal, learn and shine.
At an event organized at the Presidential Palace by the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Afghanistan’s President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, reaffirmed his Government’s strong commitment to enabling voluntary repatriation in safety and dignity, and sustainable reintegration of Afghan refugees. “They are an integral part of Afghanistan and without them, the Afghan nation is incomplete”, he said.
For over four decades, Afghans constitute the world’s largest protracted refugee situation around the globe, with millions displaced at different time intervals. Despite the complex challenges since then and including the current context, the Afghan government together with its international partners are providing the critical humanitarian assistance and development support for returnees and displaced Afghans.
Afghan refugee returnees have shown extraordinary courage, resilience and determination by having made the choice to return home in millions over the past decades. The progress achieved through the support over the past decades should be preserved while continuing the necessary support through targeted community-based, conflict-sensitive projects – that addresses the immediate needs and ensures mid- to long-term impact – to build the inclusive, peaceful, and resilient societies that can withstand the multiple shocks, so common in the context of Afghanistan.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, Global Trends Report 2021 released on 18 June 2021, estimated that the number of people fleeing wars, violence, persecution and human rights violations in 2020 rose to nearly 82.4 million people – a 4 per cent increase on top of the already record-high 79.5 million at the end of 2019. According to the statistics, 1 per cent of humanity is displaced, and there are twice as many forcibly displaced people than in 2011.
The report highlights that almost 1 million children were born as refugees between 2018 and 2020 and called for greater efforts to prevent and end conflicts. Failing to do so will result in children of lost generation, who continue to live as refugees for years to come.
“And, as world leaders are seemingly unable or unwilling to make peace, more and more displaced people pay the price. In the past three years alone, some one million children were born into a life of exile. What will their futures hold? What opportunities will they have to achieve their potential”? urged the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr. Filippo Grandi, while calling for greater political will to address conflicts and persecution that force people to flee.
These numbers are overwhelming, as are the wars, conflict and persecution that plague our world and force people from their homes. But we must not look away – because each number represents a real person, a girl or boy, woman or man, whose life has suddenly and through no fault of their own been torn apart.
2020 recorded about 132,700 Afghan refugees, though an overall reduction in numbers in 2020, Afghans still remain the third-largest population displaced across borders with a total of about 2.6 million refugees. More than 85 per cent of them are hosted in the Islamic Republics of Iran and Pakistan.
“Afghan refugees and diaspora abroad have accumulated a wealth of human capital, skills and assets with which they can play an important role in the nation building, and reconstruction and development of Afghanistan” President Ghani said.
Speaking on the occasion of World Refugee Day, Caroline Van Buren, UNHCR’s Representative in Afghanistan commended Government’s efforts in including returnees and displaced Afghans in the national priority programs particularly health, education, and livelihood sectors. “Inclusion and addressing the vulnerabilities of returnees displaced population through coordinated and comprehensive area-based humanitarian and development investments to build the resilient communities is at the heart of our (government and UNHCR’s) strategies in Afghanistan”.
While thanking the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) Support Platform’s Core Group Members in Afghanistan, established in 2019, she appreciated the international community’s immense contributions in support of displaced Afghans, at home and abroad, and welcomed the renewed interest shown by the international community in enhancing the support for returnees and IDPs as well as hosting communities in Afghanistan.
She underlined that World Refugee Day, should serve as the stark reminder of the need to work collectively to do more to prevent the root causes of displacement, and importantly to protect people and to resolve to find pragmatic and lasting solutions for the Afghans abroad and in country. It is only through all of our collective efforts, will we gradually progress towards achieving the solutions, and build inclusive, just, and peaceful Afghan societies, she added. UNHCR calls for more support to its financial appeal of US$ 127 million for Afghanistan in 2021. This appeal is only 36 per cent funded so far.
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