The humanitarian situation in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has deteriorated dramatically, with significant consequences for the most vulnerable among the population. Even prior to the events of August 2021, this year had seen the highest number of conflict-related casualties on record. In recent months, there has been a further striking decline in the security and human rights situation in large parts of the country. It is estimated that since the beginning of 2021 over 558,000 Afghans have been internally displaced by the armed conflict within the country (as of 23 August).
The situation remains uncertain and may evolve rapidly. The upsurge of violence across the country and the fall of the elected Government may have a serious impact on civilians and cause further displacement. Some 80 per cent of these newly displaced are women and children. UNHCR estimates that the number of displaced will rise, both internally and across borders. Separate to the internal displacement mentioned above, a potential worst-case scenario envisages over 515,000 newly displaced refugees fleeing across the borders.
New arrivals in those countries will join over 2.2 million registered refugees from previous waves of violence and a further 3 million Afghans of varying status including many undocumented persons who have been generously hosted in Iran and Pakistan over the past four decades. Any major influx will require the international community to support an immediate and sustained intervention to Afghanistan’s neighbours, in a spirit of responsibility- and burden-sharing.
Inter-agency Partners are responding to the refugee emergency
The humanitarian programme to support the existing 2.2 million registered Afghan refugees in Iran, Pakistan, and other countries in the region remains critically underfunded , as well as the humanitarian response plan for the population inside Afghanistan. Attention must be drawn to the need to address the critical funding gaps. This inter-agency Regional Refugee Preparedness and Response Plan (RRP) thus outlines several underfunded elements of existing programmes for refugees by Partners in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Additionally, the RRP outlines the humanitarian preparedness and priority interventions in the region in the event of outflows from Afghanistan. It covers the period from July to December 2021, including the contingency preparedness efforts that were put in place in July. The RRP will support Government responses to date and in the event of new refugee movements, and will be revised as needed and complemented with further activities from Partners to scale up the inter-agency response. The RRP builds on contingency planning undertaken at the country level with Partners, including UN agencies and NGOs, within the inter-agency coordination structures in each country. The ability to ramp up inter-agency interventions are greatly dependent on the availability and timely delivery of the resource requirements outlined in this plan.