KABUL: Amid growing humanitarian need, Afghanistan deserved greater support than ever to deal with its challenges, top UN officials said on Monday.
UN humanitarian affairs chief Mark Lowcock and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, after a joint two-day visit to the country, told journalists in Geneva that Afghanistan needed greater global assistance. A UN statement quoted Lowcock as saying: “The world needs to pay a bit more attention again to Afghanistan to help them through this challenging period.”
In a year, he hoped, Afghanistan could be back on a positive trajectory in case it got the right engagement and help. Nearly 4.2 million people in Afghanistan are in acute need of humanitarian assistance, including 1.9 million internally displaced and more than 60,000 refugees who have returned home.
According to UNHCR, outside the country, 2.6 million registered Afghan refugees are hosted by Pakistan and Iran, along with an even larger number of undocumented Afghans.
Insecurity, including terrorist attacks and growing criminality, continued to produce internal displacement and had caused a sharp decline in the number of people going back to Afghanistan, Grandi said.
The UNHCR chief explained the number heading home around the same time last year reached 40,000 to 50,000; whereas this year it had fallen to around 12,000.
European countries must not rush to repatriate Afghan refugees to their increasingly insecure homeland or blame their community for isolated crimes such as recent deadly attacks in Germany and in France, he said.
Sending Afghan refugees home was a complex issue in Europe, despite a string of suicide bombings and attacks across Afghanistan, he noted.
“There is a lot of pressure for Afghans to return. Our advice is to carry out this process with great caution because conditions from the security point of view are deteriorating,” he added.