Afghanistan's neighbours must keep borders open for refugees: UNHCR
Afghanistan’s neighbour must accept refugees as the security situation in the country remains precarious and tens of thousands of Afghans are trying to flee the Taliban, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said. “At this stage, our primary concern is that Afghans who are seeking safety can reach it, including across borders and into neighbouring countries if needed. UNHCR is calling on countries neighbouring Afghanistan to keep their borders open in light of the intensifying crisis in Afghanistan," Catherine Stubberfield, UNHCR’s regional spokesperson for Asia and the Pacific, said, according to Sputnik.
Stubberfield said that the international community has to be ready to step up support for Afghanistan and its neighbours in case of a major influx of Afghan refugees. Her comments come as several countries, including India, the US and the UK, have helped evacuate Afghans. The UN agency has said that 3.5 million people have been internally displaced in Afghanistan, including over 550,000 displaced since January of this year.
"While UNHCR welcomes the expressions of solidarity made by several countries to either evacuate or resettle Afghans in need of protection, these efforts are unfortunately only able to benefit a tiny proportion of the millions of Afghans already displaced and in need across the country," the spokeswoman said.
Such initiatives should not impede Afghan asylum seekers from going to other countries directly, or replace the essential aid within Afghanistan itself, Stubberfield said, according to Sputnik.
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Meanwhile, the United Nations Human Rights Council will hold a special session on Afghanistan on Tuesday to address the "serious human rights concerns" following the Taliban takeover. The meeting is being convened following an official request by the representatives of Pakistan, the coordinator of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and Afghanistan. The UN's top rights body said in a statement that the joint submission has been supported by 89 countries so far.
The Taliban seized Afghanistan's major cities with lightning speed and walked into Kabul on August 15 when president Ashraf Ghani fled. Since then, tens of thousands of Afghans have tried to escape the country from the hardline Islamist rule expected under the Taliban fearing reprisals for siding with the US-backed government that ruled for the past two decades.
(With agency inputs)
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