People stranded at the Pakistani-Afghan border wait for its reopening after it was closed by the Taliban who have taken over the control of the Afghan side of the border at Chaman, Pakistan, 5 October 2021 | Photo: ARCHIVE/EPA/AKHTER GULFAM
People stranded at the Pakistani-Afghan border wait for its reopening after it was closed by the Taliban who have taken over the control of the Afghan side of the border at Chaman, Pakistan, 5 October 2021 | Photo: ARCHIVE/EPA/AKHTER GULFAM

The UN refugee agency UNHCR has welcomed new measures adopted by Pakistan to ease movement of people and goods at the border with Afghanistan.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on October 26 said it welcomed with favor the recent announcement by Pakistani authorities to ease the movement of people and goods through official border points with Afghanistan.

The agency said in a statement released by spokesperson Babar Baloch that "this follows reports of border disruptions that have affected trade and regular population movements, including Afghan civilians who may need to seek safety."

Disruptions "have left many Afghans, including women, children and those needing urgent medical attention, stranded for weeks at Chaman-Spin Boldak crossing between the two countries. This border has remained closed for the past three weeks."

The new measures "help reduce fears and risks that many will be pushed into the hands of human smugglers and traffickers, with deadly consequences, when official cross-border channels are shut," the statement noted.

Nearly 700,000 internally displaced this year in Afghanistan

UNHCR stressed that nearly 700,000 Afghans have been internally displaced by the conflict this year, bringing the total number of internally displaced people to 3.5 million.

An estimated 150,000 formerly displaced Afghans have returned home in 2021 but the situation inside the country remains critical.

Iran and Pakistan together host almost 90% of all Afghan refugees worldwide and have been doing so for more than four decades.

According to the agency, more international aid is urgently needed to guarantee protection to over 1.4 million Afghan refugees already registered in Pakistan and nearly 800,000 in Iran. Both countries also host a vast population of unregistered Afghans.

Appeal to international community for assistance, protection of displaced

Inside Afghanistan, UNHCR continues to deliver much needed humanitarian assistance to displaced Afghans, the agency said.

Almost half a million people have received UNHCR assistance so far this year including tents, emergency shelter kits, food rations, blankets, kitchen sets, stoves, solar panels, solar lanterns, insulation kits, cash for the most vulnerable and other aid items.

In addition to emergency relief, UNHCR is also organizing further airlifts of humanitarian supplies into the country and continues to work in communities where former refugees have returned, investing in infrastructures, education, health, livelihoods and shelter.

UNHCR called on the international community to urgently increase financial contributions to displaced Afghans who have been forced to flee both inside the country or elsewhere. These people "remain extremely vulnerable and desperately require support to survive the coming winter", Baloch said.

 

More articles