Occupied Afghanistan — Other Five Million Refugees in ‘Acute Need’

Human Wrongs Watch

“Much has been achieved over the past decade, but there is still much more to do,” said the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos. However, “There are five million Afghan refugees in neighbouring countries and a significant number of people are still internally displaced.”

Afghan returnees at their vegetable patch in eastern Nangarhar province, one of the main areas of return from Pakistan | UN

Afghan refugees constitute the largest and longest-standing refugee situation in the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) history.

Despite the return of some 5.7 million Afghans to their homeland since 2002, there are still an estimated two million Afghans in Pakistan and close to one million in Iran. In recent years, return rates have slowed down, with an estimated 70,000 refugees going back to Afghanistan last year.

The United Nations humanitarian chief called on donors and humanitarian agencies to give continued support to the people of Afghanistan, stressing that there is still much to do during the country’s transition period.“

Overall International Assistance, Expected to Reduce
According to a news release issued on 8 May by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Amos, who arrived in Kabul  to assess the country’s humanitarian situation, emphasized that the period of transition will require careful management.
“Although overall international assistance is expected to reduce, we must continue to mobilise resources to help those in acute need,” she said. “We need to balance support for the security sector with a very strong emphasis on basic service delivery, development and governance,” the UN reports.

For his part, the head of the United Nations refugee agency on 2 May urged the international community to back a new regional strategy aimed at improving conditions for Afghan refugees in neighbouring countries and supporting those who wish to return to their country.

The new “solutions strategy,” developed jointly by Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), was unveiled at the opening of a two-day conference on 2 May in Geneva to discuss support for the voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees, sustainable reintegration and assistance for host countries.
“When three countries join in a common vision reflecting unified strategy and political will, it deserves our recognition and support,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, said at the conference opening.

“I urge this conference to generate the ideas and means to reflect the international community’s solidarity with the Afghan refugees and the hosting communities that share their resources with them,” he added.

A “Solutions Strategy”!

The “solutions strategy” contains a package of measures aimed at supporting refugees, and tailored towards the specific needs of each of the three countries hosting them. Implementation of the strategy will cost an estimated $1.9 billion and support from donors will be crucial for its success.

In Afghanistan, the focus is on supporting reintegration. Some 49 pilot sites in 19 high-return provinces have been identified for support with shelter, social services, employment and food security.

In Iran, the priority is on supporting returns to Afghanistan, as well as helping to ensure that their returns are sustainable. Programmes include vocational training for refugees, but support is also envisaged for a health insurance scheme.

For the refugees in Pakistan, the emphasis is on the voluntary repatriation and support for host communities.

“We are in an important period of transition in Afghanistan that is characterized by uncertainty,” said Guterres. “Afghan refugees have shown that they vote with their feet when conditions for return are conducive … We have a collective responsibility to support and facilitate their legitimate aspirations.

Read Also:

Afghanistan: UN (Not U.S.) Rushes to Feed 7,3 Million Poor  

Another Year of Death and Destruction in the AfPak War

‘Stop This Military Madness’ in Afghanistan

Why Did the U.S. Attack Pakistan?

Afghan and U.S. Troops Forcing Civilians to March Onto Mined Roads?

U.S.-led “Enduring Freedom”: Systematic Torture and Abuse in Afghan Prisons

U.S-Backed Afghan Police and Militia Behind Killings and Rape

Afghanistan, The Worst Place To Be A Mother Or A Child

Occupied Afghanistan Has ‘Long Way to Go’ in Protecting Women

Afghanistan Provides 90 % of World’s Opium

Sharp Increase in Afghan Opium Production and Consumption

Afghanistan: 400 Women, Girls Jailed for ‘Moral Crimes’

Karzai Accuses US of Torture, False Imprisonment

2012 Human Wrongs Watch

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