A humanitarian crisis looms in Afghanistan as number of displaced climbs - Washingtonpost
Abdul Halim fled the northern city of Kunduz this month, after militants and security forces had been clashing for days. Now he’s 200 miles away in Kabul, sleeping in a tent and living on aid. He is part of a looming humanitarian crisis aid agencies here are struggling to contain.
Before the current crisis, more than a million people had already been uprooted. Now at least another million Afghans are “on the move” inside Afghanistan and across its borders, in what the United Nations warns is an alarming new wave of displaced people to which the government has struggled to respond.
Many, like Abdul Halim, fled violence or conflict; others escaped hardships such as poverty or drought. Still others were forced to return from Pakistan and Iran.
Even as the numbers grew, Afghanistan agreed to accept Afghan asylum seekers deported from the European Union. The deal, signed this month, could see the E.U. construct a separate terminal for deportations at Kabul’s international airport, and as many as 100,000 Afghans could return.
“This sudden increase [in the displaced] has put a lot of pressure on Afghanistan, which has had 30 years of war,” said Nader Farhad, spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency in Kabul.
“It’s not easy to put together the infrastructure, to provide the services that are required,” he said, adding that the displaced need everything from food and blankets to jobs and health care.
“To the European countries, we say: Instead of investing in the return of Afghans to Afghanistan, tackle the root causes,” Farhad said. If the United Nations and other aid agencies fail to provide emergency assistance, “it will be a humanitarian crisis,” he said.
Massive displacement has plagued Afghanistan for years, beginning with the Soviet invasion in 1979.
That conflict kindled two decades of war. When the United States invaded in 2001, some 4 million Afghans were living in Pakistan and Iran.
Many of those refugees later returned, driven by hopes for stability and peace. But now, Afghanistan is witnessing some of its worst violence since the United States toppled the Taliban. - Read More