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Afghanistan situation: Emergency preparedness and response in Iran, 19 August 2021

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KEY HIGHLIGHTS

UNHCR has issued a non-return advisory for Afghanistan, calling on all countries to allow civilians fleeing Afghanistan access to their territories, and for a bar on forced returns, including of asylum-seekers who have had their claims rejected.

No mass influx into Iran yet although new arrivals have increased. At present 1,760 new arrivals are hosted by the Government in various border locations.

Borders between Iran and Afghanistan are officially closed since 16 August, except for two that remain open for commerce. Informal routes are likely being used to come into Iran.

UNHCR is focusing on advanced preparedness, such as pre-positioning and dispatching Core Relief Items (CRIs) in eastern areas, and joining site assessments in view of site development.

SECURITY SITUATION IN AFGHANISTAN

  • All major cities in Afghanistan are under Taliban control, including Kabul and its presidential palace. The security situation in Kabul remains relatively stable, with sporadic incidents of fighting and gunfire.

  • Kabul airport is semi-functional. On Monday, a civilian rush was reported at the airport in Kabul, with the UN terminal reportedly breached and civilians accessing UN aircrafts parked in the area. Military evacuation flights have continued out of Kabul. Civilian flights remain suspended.

  • Initial reports suggest that some 120,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have started to return from Kabul to their places of origin, including to the northern region. IDPs residing in informal settlements in Kandahar have also reportedly began returning. There are no verified numbers of returnees for now.

  • The border situation with neighbouring countries remains fluid, though no large-scale movements out of Afghanistan have been reported so far.

  • The UN peacekeeping mission (UNAMA) has recorded about 2,392 casualties (783 killed and 1,609 injured) in May and June – a record since the start of systematic documentation in 2009. In total, fighting across the country has claimed the lives of over 40,000 people since 2009 when UN reporting began.