Norwegian aid agency appeals for access to IDPs

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) appealed to all parties involved in the conflict to guarantee humanitarian access across frontlines and to allow aid groups to deliver necessary provisions to people in hard-to-reach areas in the country.

In a press release issued on Wednesday, the NRC said it “is appealing to the parties of the conflict to guarantee humanitarian access across frontlines and to allow aid groups to stay and deliver in hard-to-reach areas where many Afghans in greatest need now suffer alone.

“The attacks on hospitals, schools and aid workers have paralyzed humanitarian work in too many areas. NRC is working to demilitarize schools after some 1,150 schools were attacked or occupied in 2018 adding half a million children to the rising number of children without education,” the NRC stated.

According to the organization, the first weeks of 2019 have seen large numbers of civilians displaced by intensified conflict across the Afghan countryside.

“Whilst international attention is focused on very welcome peace talks, I have in recent days met countless Afghan women, men and children who have fled air raids, cross-fire and military offensives in Central and Southern Afghanistan,” said Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council who is currently visiting the country.

“Many recent casualties in the Afghan war are in hard-to-reach areas where the few humanitarian groups are overwhelmed by the needs,” he said. The NRC stated Afghans continue to be attacked, abused, displaced and refused their rights.

“Almost two-thirds of the population – 17 million people – live in areas directly affected by conflict. Approximately 6.3 million are in need of humanitarian assistance, of these 60 percent are children,” the statement read.

The organization said 1.5 million people are internally displaced across the country and 2.6 million people are close to famine.

Separate studies undertaken by NRC showed that while almost half of the displaced people surveyed received assistance in 2012, five years later their survey showed that only a quarter received external support.

“The deepening neglect of conflict victims has continued through 2018, which was one of the deadliest years in the last decade with over 8,000 people killed or injured.”

“All the civilians I met in conflict-stricken Uruzgan and Kandahar expressed a deep yearning for peace after generations of senseless and bloody war. The Afghans in the countryside, many living in poverty, have seen frontlines shift for decades and yearn for security, a possibility to return to their lands and to restart livelihoods,” said Egeland.

“At the same time, they beg that the progress brought by foreign assistance must be secured and that all of the unfulfilled promises of education, health and development must not be forgotten as foreign forces prepare to leave,” said Egeland.

The NRC’s program in Afghanistan assists internally displaced Afghans and refugees in Pakistan and their priorities are twofold. In the aftermath of violence and disaster, the NRC provides immediate, emergency assistance. Where the effects of long-term displacement have taken hold, the organization works to find lasting solutions. Our regional and cross-border program addresses and relieves the effects of conflict, as do their emergency teams. The NRC also places significant importance on helping displaced people in hard-to-access areas as well as supporting women in accessing their rights. (TOLOnews)