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

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KEY HIGHLIGHTS

677,832 people have been internally displaced in Afghanistan in 2021.

Afghans continue to make their way to Iran irregularly through unofficial borders. UNHCR is aware of 19,641 Afghans who arrived in Iran from 1 January until 15 October. The numbers are very likely much higher. 71% of those interviewed by UNHCR reported having resorted to smugglers to cross into Iran.

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 need of international protection to get it.

POLITICAL & SECURITY SITUATION IN AFGHANISTAN

▪ UNHCR’s emergency response in Afghanistan continues. Over the last two weeks, UNHCR has assisted some 100,000 people throughout Afghanistan with emergency shelters, blankets, solar panels, and cash for the most vulnerable. In total, we have reached more than half a million displaced people with assistance so far this year. Additionally, the first of three planned UNHCR aid flights landed in Uzbekistan on 15 October, carrying shelter supplies to be taken by truck for tens of thousands of internally displaced people in Mazar-iSharif in Afghanistan. The flight carried 32 tonnes of relief supplies from UNHCR's warehouse in Dubai - mainly shelter items, kitchen sets and plastic tarpaulins.

▪ The overall security situation in the country remains relatively calm, though isolated but violent incidents continue to take civilian lives. On 15 October, suicide bombers attacked a mosque in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, killing dozens of people and wounding dozens more, the second such attack on a Shiite place of worship on successive Fridays in the country. The Islamic State Khorasan, also known as ISIS-K and ISKP, claimed responsibility. These attacks can be seen as a display of the organization’s newly established reach, as it begins a reinvigorated campaign of violence against the people of Afghanistan and the new Taliban government.

▪ For the Shiite minority and many of the Hazaras in Afghanistan, ISKP’s regained strength has ushered in yet another era of uncertainty. Earlier this month, Amnesty International said that the Taliban unlawfully killed 13 Hazaras, including a 17-year-old girl, amplifying fears for ethnic and religious minorities. On 16 October, it was reported that large populations of the Hazara ethnic group have been ordered to evict their homes by the Taliban. Most evictions are taking place in remote and rural areas of the country. It is estimated that between 400 to 2,000 families have been displaced from 15 villages in Daikundi province in central Afghanistan. Among the new arrivals in Iran, 40% are Hazaras; UNHCR suspects the number of Hazaras crossing to Iran will likely increase, in light of these recent attacks.