The United Nations said on Friday to expect up to half a million additional Afghan refugees in 2021, although no exodus has yet been observed.
“In terms of numbers, we are preparing for around 500,000 new refugees in the region. This is the most pessimistic scenario, ”said Kelly Clements, Deputy High Commissioner of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), on the occasion of the presentation of the Regional Preparedness and Emergency Plan. intervention for Afghan refugees.
“Remember that more than 2.2 million Afghans are already hosted by Iran and Pakistan, and that flight is sometimes not only the last resort, but also the only option people have to survive and enjoy the most fundamental human rights, ”she added. Iran and Pakistan also host another 3 million Afghans with various statuses, including many undocumented people, according to UNHCR.
This regional plan provides for a call for funds of 299 million dollars (254.4 million euros) to finance this year the activities of UN agencies, including the UNHCR, the World Food Program and the United Nations Fund for children (Unicef), as well as NGOs with which the United Nations works.
“Although we have not seen any significant departures of Afghans at this point, the situation in Afghanistan has evolved faster than anyone expected. We must therefore be ready to face all eventualities, ”she insisted.
Afghanistan fell into the hands of the Taliban after a meteoric offensive, even before the deadline set by President Joe Biden for the withdrawal of the last American soldiers on August 31st expired. The Taliban have made efforts since their return to display an open and moderate image. But many Afghans, often urban and educated, fear that the Islamists will institute the same type of fundamentalist and brutal regime only when they were in power between 1996 and 2001.
Those who have worked in recent years with foreigners or the deposed pro-Western government, in particular, fear being silenced or even hounded and have fed the flow of many candidates departing at Kabul airport, where a double attack killed dozens of people on Thursday.
More than 558,000 Afghans have been forced to move inside Afghanistan this year, joining the estimated 2.9 million Afghans who were already internally displaced across the country by the end of 2020, according to UNHCR. International humanitarian organizations present on the spot alerting to a chaotic situation and a growing risk of famine.
“We know that increasing insecurity and violence have caused the displacement of more than half a million Afghans this year alone, 80% of whom are women and children,” the High Commissioner said.