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Afghanistan situation: Emergency preparedness and response in Iran, 11 October 2021

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KEY HIGHLIGHTS

665,182 people have been internally displaced in Afghanistan since the start of 2021. 143,125 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are estimated to have returned to their places of origin, including nearly 37,000 IDPs in 15 priority areas of return and reintegration (PARRs) districts, where UNHCR has ongoing projects.

Afghans continue to make their way to Iran irregularly through unofficial borders. UNHCR is aware of 19,102 Afghans who arrived in Iran from 1 January until 7 October. The numbers are very likely much higher.

Official borders between Afghanistan and Iran remain closed for asylum seekers. UNHCR continues its advocacy with the Government to open borders and allow individuals in needs of international protection to get it.

POLITICAL & SECURITY SITUATION IN AFGHANISTAN

▪ Afghanistan was already among the world’s worst humanitarian situations prior to the Taliban assuming power in August, which has deepened existing needs and vulnerabilities. On 6 October, UN agencies in Afghanistan stated that nearly half the population of Afghanistan - more than 18 million people - require aid assistance to survive. In the last month, humanitarians provided food assistance to more than 3.8 million Afghans, and treated some 21,000 children under five, as well as 10,000 women, for acute malnutrition. The UNHCR Deputy Representative in Afghanistan underlined the urgency, saying millions will struggle to survive the coming winter.

▪ Boys (7-12 years old) have been allowed to go back to school, but the Taliban have said “a safe learning environment” was needed before girls in the same age group could return to school. On 11 October, the UNHCR Deputy Representative in Afghanistan met the Vice-Chancellor of Kabul University and Afghan refugee returnee DAFI scholars and stressed that continuing inclusion of female students in higher education remains a priority for UNHCR. The Vice-Chancellor assured support for existing students and newcomers.

▪ Violence continues to punctuate the lives of Afghans. On 8 October, a packed mosque was the target of a bomb attack killing at least 55 people and wounding more than 140 Afghans in Kunduz province, in northern Afghanistan. The Taliban spokesperson, Bilal Karimi, stated that the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (known as ISKP or ISIS-K) was behind the attack. The Taliban also reported that there would be no cooperation with Washington on containing the increasingly active Islamic State group in Afghanistan.

▪ On 9 October, the first meeting between representatives from the United States (US) and the Taliban took place since the withdrawal of foreign troops. The two-day discussions focused on security, counterterrorism, human rights, including the rights of women and girls, as well as the provision of safe passage for foreign nationals and Afghans wishing to leave Afghanistan. The State Department spokesman Ned Price said the discussion was candid and professional, adding that the US will continue providing humanitarian aid and delivering it directly to people in need. US officials said the talks were a continuation of “pragmatic engagements” with the Taliban and “not about granting recognition or conferring legitimacy” to the group.
Meanwhile, the de facto foreign ministry in Kabul “welcomed the US offer of humanitarian assistance” but said such assistance “should not be linked to political issues”. The Acting Foreign Minister for Afghanistan, Mullah Amir Khan Muttaqi, also requested for the US to “unfreeze” some $10bn worth of assets.