KABUL — Almost 400,000 people got displaced from Afghanistan, unfolding a humanitarian crisis in the country, amid Taliban advances post US drawdown.
Among the 400,000 displaced, 120,000 have fled to Kabul, the country’s capital, as per the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports.
“400,000 civilians forcibly displaced since the start of the year. Of the almost 250,000 forced from their homes since the end of May, most — 80 percent — are women and children,” tweeted United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
As widespread fighting intensifies, the United Nations in Afghanistan continues to call for a permanent ceasefire and a negotiated settlement in the interests of the Afghan people.
“Due to the conflict that we see across the country, many people are arriving in Kabul and other large cities, trying to seek safety for themselves and their families,” said Stephane Dujarric, the chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The human toll of spiraling hostilities is immense. The United Nations Assistance Mission has warned that without a significant de-escalation in violence, Afghanistan is on course to witness the highest ever number of documented civilian casualties in a single year, said Shabia Mantoo, the spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
“As part of the broader effort of the United Nations, our teams have assessed the needs of almost 400,000 internally displaced civilians this year,” added Mantoo.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has called on countries neighboring Afghanistan to keep their borders open in light of the intensifying crisis in Afghanistan.
The overwhelming majority of Afghans forced to flee remain within the country, as close to their homes as fighting will allow. Since 2021, nearly 120,000 Afghans have fled from rural areas and provincial towns to Kabul province.
Afghans displaced by fighting stream into Kabul and other large cities, some renting, many staying with family and friends, others camping in the open.
“The humanitarian community has verified 10,350 internally displaced people who have arrived in Kabul between July 1 and Aug. 12. Most of the displaced people are either renting accommodations or being hosted by friends or family, but, unfortunately, a growing number are staying in the open,” said Dujarric.
As of Aug. 12, humanitarians provided food, health, household items, and water and sanitation assistance to some 6,900 displaced men, women, and children in Kabul.
“We’re evaluating, literally on an hour-by-hour basis, the security situation, both in Kabul and in other locations,” he said. “There is no evacuation of UN staff going on.”
In one province, Kunar, in eastern Afghanistan, since July 25, tens of thousands of people have been displaced by escalating conflict, Dujarric said. Some 14,000 internally displaced people are eligible to receive aid.
The United Nations and partners distributed food to almost 4,000 people in Kunar, he said. About 3,900 people received emergency shelter and relief, including kitchen sets. Mobile teams provide essential health and nutrition services.
The United Nations Refugee Agency said it is particularly worried about the impact of the conflict on women and girls, the spokesman said.
“The United States has a moral obligation. Admit as many Afghan refugees as possible,” tweeted Khaled Hosseini, an Afghan-American novelist.
Earlier, Undersecretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo said on Twitter she is deeply concerned about the situation in Afghanistan and noted that yet again, civilians are bearing the brunt of the violence.
She said that one thing is clear from the country’s recent history: military action will not achieve durable peace and development.
Meanwhile, Turkey has tightened security at the Iran border to stop Afghan refugees.
“At a time when governments should be opening their doors to Afghans whose lives are at grave risk from the Taliban takeover, Turkey’s President Erdogan says he is ‘intensifying measures to stop the influx of refugees from Afghanistan’,” tweeted Kenneth Roth, executive director at the Human Rights Watch.
US President Joseph R. Biden on Aug. 16 directed Secretary of State Antony Blinken to use up to $500 million from the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund for Afghan refugees.
There are almost 2.5 million registered refugees from Afghanistan, as per the reports of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
They comprise the largest protracted refugee population in Asia and the second-largest refugee population in the world. In light of the increasingly deteriorating security situation in many parts of the country, the violence continues to drive people from their homes in 2018.
(With inputs from ANI)
Edited by Saptak Datta and Ritaban Misra
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