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Afghanistan situation: Emergency preparedness and response in Iran, 26 October 2021

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KEY HIGHLIGHTS

677,832 people have been internally displaced in Afghanistan in 2021.
UNHCR’s emergency response in Afghanistan continues, with the provision of cash grants and distribution of basic items to vulnerable Afghans.

Afghans continue to make their way to Iran irregularly through unofficial borders. UNHCR is aware of 20,341 Afghans who arrived in Iran from 1 January-23 October.
The numbers are 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 need of international protection to get it.

POLITICAL & SECURITY SITUATION IN AFGHANISTAN

▪ More than half of the Afghan population, or some 23 million people, will face acute food insecurity from November, according to a report by the Food Security and Agriculture Cluster in Afghanistan, co-led by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP). The combined impacts of drought, conflict, COVID-19, and the economic crisis have severely affected people's access to food, but many who depend on the delivery of humanitarian assistance and live in certain areas of the country may be cut off due to the harsh winter conditions. Many Afghans are selling possessions to buy food, with the Taliban unable to pay wages to civil servants. According to local media reports, the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock has launched a nationwide ‘food for work’ program to prevent a food crisis, reduce poverty and create job opportunities for the people. “More than 40,000 people will be provided jobs, they will receive wheat as they work, and the initiative will be expanded to other provinces in the next two months,” said Zabiullah Mujahid, the spokesperson of the de facto Afghan government.

▪ The situation for women and girls in Afghanistan remains precarious. UNICEF reported that, in the northern provinces of Afghanistan, girls were being allowed to attend schools in grades 7-12. However, the de facto Taliban head of public awareness for the Kabul municipality has said, according to local media, that female government city employees were told not to come to their jobs while officials prepare a new ‘plan’ to allow women to work in government offices.

▪ On 21 October, Russia, China, Pakistan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan joined the Taliban in calling on the UN to convene ‘a donor conference’ as soon as possible to help rebuild the country. Washington chose not to attend the talks, citing technical reasons, but has said it may join future rounds. While governments around the world, including Russia, have declined to give official recognition to the Taliban government, the communique recognised the “new reality” of their ascent to power. G20 leaders and ministers have also agreed they will have to involve the Taliban in sending humanitarian aid to Afghanistan but say that this stops short of political recognition of the Taliban as a government.

▪ Political and security uncertainty continue to define the current context in Afghanistan. Since the Taliban takeover in August, ISIS-K attacks have claimed the lives of hundreds of Afghans. Analysts have warned of further violence as the group attempts to prevent the Taliban from consolidating power. Dismayed by the Taliban’s reluctance to impose even tougher restrictions on women and its diplomatic overtures to countries such as the US and China, former Taliban members are reportedly switching allegiance to ISIS-K.