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Afghanistan situation: Emergency preparedness and response in Iran, 2 December 2021

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KEY HIGHLIGHTS

669,492 people have been internally displaced in Afghanistan in 2021, of which 15% are families, 21% are women and 59% are children.
Afghans continue to make their way to Iran informally through unofficial borders. UNHCR is aware of 23,964 Afghans who arrived in Iran from 1 January to 27 November, though the numbers are much higher.

Official borders between Afghanistan and Iran remain closed for asylum seekers.
UNHCR estimates 65% of all newly arriving Afghan asylum seekers are deported from Iran by the government.

POLITICAL, SECURITY & HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN AFGHANISTAN

▪ With millions in Afghanistan facing starvation as winter arrives, the World Food Programme urged countries to put politics aside and step-up support to avert a potential catastrophe. Humanitarian needs in the country have increased, the UN agency said, with all 34 provinces facing a crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity. The rising cost of wheat has led to an 80 per cent increase in the price of bread, a staple for many families. In some areas, people are compensating by consuming a variety of wheat that has been known to cause neurological problems. Many are surviving on bread and tea with milk.

▪ On 17 November, the UN Special Representative and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Deborah Lyons, during a Security Council meeting stated that three months after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, it is taking “halting steps to pursue international legitimacy”. Lyons also stressed that the international community must remain engaged with the Taliban in order to shape “a more positive future trajectory”. She further warned that “to abandon the Afghan people now would be a historic mistake – a mistake that has been made before with tragic consequences.”

▪ On 30 November, UNHCR in Iran received increased financial support from the Government of Germany to support Afghan refugees in 2021, from an initial EUR 3.2 million to EUR 57 million. The total German contribution to emergency support for Afghanistan amounts to EUR 600 million for Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. “Germany has always played a big part in supporting humanitarian efforts in Iran, but even more so now. During these times of increased humanitarian needs, Germany’s generous funding will strengthen UNHCR’s response to protect vulnerable refugees,” said Ivo Freijsen, UNHCR’s Representative in Iran.