Switzerland | UN Warns of “Major” Humanitarian Crisis in Afghanistan

A “major” humanitarian crisis is looming in Afghanistan, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Friday, amid ongoing uncertainty about the situation for vulnerable Afghans seeking shelter across the country’s borders.

Speaking from Pakistan at a virtual briefing held in Geneva, UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch said the “reality is the displacement crisis is inside Afghanistan”, with “more than 600,000 Afghans” displaced this year, “80 per cent of which are women and children.”

In an appeal to the world not to turn away its attention or focus from Afghans and Afghanistan, he warned that this cannot be allowed “to become a humanitarian catastrophe.”

Describing the situation at the country’s borders with Pakistan, Baloch said UNHCR has “not seen a large refugee influx…crossing over into Pakistan and Iran or other places.”

He said the explanation for this is unclear: “It could be that some of those people may not think they have the right documents, others may not be so comfortable in terms of confronting armed guards at the borders,” he said.

He explained, “Afghans are still able to come through Pakistan. We have some reports of Iran and other locations, but it is very regulated and a managed flow at the borders. So, you need to have your documents to show. It could be your ID card. It could be a passport.

It could be a visa.”Baloch’s appeal follows UNHCR’s repeated call on Tuesday for Afghanistan’s neighbouring states to keep their borders open to those fleeing Afghanistan.

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