With millions of people internally displaced in Afghanistan and many scrambling to flee danger in the country, the UN on Friday called on neighboring countries to open their borders “in light of the evolving crisis.”
Shabia Mantoo, a spokeswoman for the UN Refugee Agency, said UNHCR is concerned about the current humanitarian needs within Afghanistan and urges support to ensure that those requiring assistance are not forgotten.
“The situation on the ground across the country remains extremely fluid,” Mantoo said at a UN press conference.
“While widespread fighting has decreased since the takeover of the country by the Taliban on Sunday, the full impact of the evolving situation is not yet clear. Many Afghans are extremely anxious about what the future holds.”
The country has a massive problem of internal population displacement, with UNHCR saying last week that of Afghanistan’s estimated population of 35 million people, some 3.5 million are displaced inside the country.
Internally displaced people
“In terms of the figures, we had 550,000 people displaced since January. By the end of last year, we had 2.9 million internally displaced people,” said Mantoo.
She said these are internal displacements within the country. But in addition to that, there are also 2.6 million registered Afghan refugees worldwide, mainly in Iran and Pakistan.
“UNHCR remains concerned about the risk of human rights violations against civilians in this evolving context, including women and girls.
“As of today, those who may be in danger have no clear way out. UNHCR is calling on the countries neighboring Afghanistan to keep their borders open in light of the evolving crisis in Afghanistan.”
Mantoo said: “Together with the wider UN country team, we are committed to staying and delivering aid to the Afghan people for as long as we have access to populations in need and can ensure the safety of our staff.”
On Aug. 17, the refugee agency had called for a halt to deportations of Afghan nationals, including asylum seekers, who have had their claims rejected, citing the country’s rapid security and human rights deterioration.
Within the framework of an accord between the US and Taliban that began last year, international forces started withdrawing from Afghanistan this year.
The agreement provided for a clause stipulating no attacks on foreign forces, but it did not make a provision for the actions of the Taliban against Afghan security forces.
Besieging the capital, the Taliban seized control of Kabul without a fight after President Ashraf Ghani left the country on Aug. 15.