After US and foreign troops leave Afghanistan in September, UN refugee director Filippo Grandi said on Monday that the UN is prepared for a possible increased displacement of civilians.
As international soldiers prepare to withdraw, violence has increased, and efforts to broker a peace deal between the Afghan government and the rebel Taliban have stagnated.
Grandi cited a devastating attack last week in northern Afghanistan on an international demining organisation that killed ten people.
“This is a tragic indicator of the type of violence that may be resurfacing in Afghanistan and with the withdrawal of the international troops this is possibly or likely going to become worse,” Grandi said.
“Therefore we are doing contingency planning inside the country for further displacement, in the neighboring countries in case people might cross borders,” he said, without offering details of those plans.
According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, which Grandi chairs, there are approximately 2.5 million registered Afghan refugees worldwide, with another 4.8 million displaced within the nation.
After 20 years in Afghanistan, the US has begun withdrawing its final 2,500 troops, with the goal of being totally gone by September 11. Around 7,000 non-US personnel, mostly from Nato countries including as Australia, New Zealand, and Georgia, are expected to leave by September 11.
Grandi stated that peace discussions between the Afghan government and the Taliban will require considerable international assistance.
“It’s political action that should substitute conflict but, of course, the risk (of further displacement) is there and we need to be prepared,” he added.
US-backed Afghan forces toppled the Taliban in late 2001 for refusing to hand over al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
“What’s needed is a high level of economic support for Afghanistan humanitarian assistance to maximize the chance the Afghan authorities have to stabilise the situation,” UN aid chief Mark Lowcock said.
“There’s been very good and constructive outreach from the Biden administration, from the White House down, and we have actually had very productive discussions with them on that,” added Lowcock, who steps down from his role this month.
The US pledged more than $266 million in new humanitarian aid for Afghanistan earlier this month, bringing the total amount of such help granted to about $3.9 billion since 2002.
According to the United Nations, over half of the country’s population, 18.4 million people, or almost half of the population, require humanitarian assistance. The UN has requested $1.3 billion in financing for 2021. So far, just approximately a quarter of that has been received.
According to Lowcock, Afghanistan drew a lot of worldwide interest until a few years ago. This has “dissipated and weakened, which is a challenge when it comes to raising attention to Afghanistan’s problems and obtaining