Afghan refugees pose for a photograph at their refugee camp in Islamabad, Pakistan | Photo: ARCHIVE / EPA / SOHAIL SHAHZAD
Afghan refugees pose for a photograph at their refugee camp in Islamabad, Pakistan | Photo: ARCHIVE / EPA / SOHAIL SHAHZAD

UNHCR is appealing to the international community for continued engagement and increased support for the people of Afghanistan, including for internally displaced people and refugees seeking safety outside the country.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is calling for greater support from the international community for Afghanistan's people, including those displaced within its borders and refugees seeking safety outside the country. The appeal comes at the end of a four-day visit by UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, Raouf Mazou, who was on his first trip to the country.

"Afghanistan is at a critical and historical juncture," said Mazou in a statement released Thursday, May 27. ''With ongoing efforts to find peace, relief and development activities need to be scaled up simultaneously as well."

Concerns about violence

The statement said Mazou raised concerns about the continued violence which has been causing new displacement. Over 100,000 Afghans have been internally displaced due to conflict so far in 2021.

Mazou spoke with refugee returnees in Mazar Sharif, in northern Afghanistan, who were learning carpet-weaving skills.In Kabul province's Qarabagh district, he inaugurated the Akakhail Boys' and Girls' High School.

Both are part of UNHCR initiatives, working with the Afghan government, to help refugee returnees better reintegrate.

During his visit to Kabul, he met with First Vice-President Amurallah Saleh, Minister of Refugees and Repatriation Noor-e-Rahman Akhlaqi and Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Mirwais Nab, and assured them of UNHCR's continued support.

Call for funding

UNHCR recalled that Afghanistan today has a population of nearly 35 million people, the majority of them young, facing insecurity and economic challenges. It said millions also remain displaced within the country, while others cross the border and are hosted by countries such as Iran and Pakistan despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

UNHCR said it has assisted over 100,000 internally displaced Afghans in the last six months through the distribution of hygiene kits, emergency shelter kits, family tents, sanitary kits and other non-food items.

Cash assistance has also been provided to vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly, children and women at risk, people with disabilities, and those with serious medical conditions, UNHCR said.

"While the international community has made immense contributions during the last 20 years, aid and funding for Afghanistan have been on the decline, with humanitarian assistance facing the largest funding shortfalls," UNHCR said, adding that its 2021 financial appeal of 123.5 million US dollars is only 24% funded.


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