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UNHCR chief appeals for global engagement to address Afghanistan’s needs

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Declaring that the world must deliver sustained support to the people of Afghanistan, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, appealed for robust assistance to address the country’s humanitarian needs and those of Afghan refugees abroad.

“As much as the world is rightfully preoccupied with the war in Ukraine, Afghanistan is experiencing a very grave crisis,” Grandi said at the end of a four-day visit to the country.

“We speak with people who do not know what they will eat for their next meal; women heads of households afraid for the health and well-being of their children; mothers and fathers desperate to provide for their families. The needs here are enormous,” Grandi declared after a visit that included the opening of a UNHCR-built health centre in Kandahar and to a girls school which UNHCR constructed in Jalalabad.

Grandi arrived in Afghanistan on Monday and met with the interim Afghan government as well as UN and NGO workers who continue to provide vital assistance throughout the country. During his meetings, Grandi said UNHCR’s commitment to stay and deliver humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan is unwavering.

So far in 2022, the UN Refugee Agency’s assistance and relief programmes have helped more than 500,000 Afghans, including more than 130,000 people who received relief items or direct financial assistance to survive the winter and more than 370,000 people who benefited from health centres, schools, water systems and other infrastructure that UNHCR has built in areas prioritised for the return of refugees and IDPs.

“Some 3.4 million people are internally displaced due to conflict, the healthcare system is experiencing severe shortages amid the COVID crisis and a measles outbreak, key workers in vital services like schools and hospitals are without salaries, while the liquidity crisis, rising global food and energy costs are having a devastating effect,” Grandi declared.

“Overall, 24 million people throughout Afghanistan require humanitarian support this year and we appeal to donors to fund a large humanitarian effort which I have seen is delivering critical results.”

“Protecting the rights and well-being of Afghans requires long-term political and economic stability,” Grandi said.

“Without support to the UN and partners’ work, however, the hardship I witnessed this week in Jalalabad, Kandahar and Kabul will mount,” he said.

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Al-Qaeda cells operating in multiple Afghan provinces: UN

The report said that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) remains the largest terrorist group in Afghanistan, with an estimated strength of 6,000–6,500 fighters

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Al-Qaeda cells are operating in multiple provinces of Afghanistan, mainly in south-east of the country, UN sanctions monitors said in a new report.

The report by the UN Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team said that despite a reduced profile, Al-Qaeda disseminates propaganda to increase recruitment while working to rebuild its operational capability.

“Several Member States noted that facilities with Al-Qaida associations are mainly for training local fighters along with TTP operatives, with newly reported training base locations and safe houses in various Afghan provinces, including former camps in Jalalabad and in Kandahar Province, and in Kunar, Nuristan and Takhar Provinces,” the report said.

The report said that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) remains the largest terrorist group in Afghanistan, with an estimated strength of 6,000–6,500 fighters

It added that the group continues to operate on a significant scale in Afghanistan and to conduct terrorist operations into Pakistan from there, often utilizing Afghans.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), however, rejects the report.

Hamdullah Fitrat, deputy spokesperson of IEA, emphasizes that no terrorist group is present in Afghanistan, and the Islamic Emirate will not allow anyone to use Afghanistan’s soil against other countries.

According to the UN report, member States credit IEA’s efforts to counter the threat from Daesh but question the IEA’s counter-terrorism capabilities and have concerns about continued Daesh recruitment and dispersal.

 

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More than 350,000 people sign petition asking IEA to respect human rights: Amnesty

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Amnesty International announced on Friday that 354,847 people worldwide have signed a petition asking the authorities of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) to respect and guarantee protection of human rights.

“In a powerful show of global solidarity, 354,847 signatures have been collected calling on the Taliban de-facto authorities (IEA) to respect and protect human rights in Afghanistan,” Amnesty International South Asia said on X. “As the catastrophic human rights situation persists, we must continue our joint demand for accountability and justice in Afghanistan.”

International organizations have repeatedly expressed concern about restrictions on women and girls in Afghanistan.

However, the Islamic Emirate has said that it is committed to ensuring women’s rights in accordance with the Sharia law, insisting that is an internal issue of Afghanistan.

 

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NRC chief calls for donors’ diplomatic presence in Kabul

Earlier, Hugh Bayley, a commissioner for the official UK aid watchdog, also called for a British diplomatic presence in Kabul to support Afghan women and monitor aid.

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Jan Egeland, head of Norwegian Refugee Council, said on Friday that donor countries should send diplomats back to Kabul and join in the fight for women’s rights, girls’ education and minority protection.

Earlier, Hugh Bayley, a commissioner for the official UK aid watchdog, also called for a British diplomatic presence in Kabul to support Afghan women and monitor aid.

“Yes, the UK and other donors should send diplomats back to Kabul and join us there to fight for women’s rights, girls education and minority protection,” Egeland said on X. “As humanitarian groups we are too alone, underfunded and overstretched among the 40 million civilians NATO left behind in 2021.”

With the takeover of Afghanistan by the Islamic Emirate in August 2021, Western countries pulled their diplomats out of the country.

No state recognises the Islamic Emirate as the Afghan government, although countries including Russia, China, Iran, Turkey and India have opened diplomatic missions in Kabul.

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