ATLANTA (Pajhwok): The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has launched a response plan to support 7.9 million people with 5.2 million Afghans, including refugees and their local hosts across the region.
The Regional Refugee Response Plan for the Afghanistan Situation (2023) seeks US$613 million to support Afghans sheltering in Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. UNHCR said in a statement.
These countries host some 8.2 million Afghans, including over 2 million registered refugees. Many have been in the region for decades, mostly in Iran and Pakistan, the refugee agency said.
Those two countries, with others, have generously accommodated Afghans, offering them access to public services at great cost. An estimated 1.6 million have arrived in the region since 2021. UNHCR added.
Over 70 per cent of those in need of support are women and children.
A separate UN-wide plan has also been launched to respond to humanitarian needs inside Afghanistan. That plan seeks $4.62 billion for some 23.7 million Afghans in 2023.
UNHCR called Afghanistan one of the world’s largest and most severe humanitarian crises. A record 28.3 million people — some two-thirds of the population, including women and girls –require humanitarian and protection assistance.
Needs have been exacerbated by recent restrictions on women, including the ban on female NGO staff.
The UN and its partners appealed to the international community not to forget or neglect the people of Afghanistan.
Humanitarian partners remain on the ground, and they are delivering assistance and protection inside Afghanistan and in the region, despite the challenges.
Millions of Afghans are looking to the international community for support, and to their country’s interim leaders for peace, security, and opportunity. Financial support remains critical to stave off wide-spread hunger, disease, malnutrition and, ultimately, death.
A similar funding appeal for 2022 was only 52 per cent funded, with $321 million received of the $623 million required.
Despite the shortfall, UNHCR and partners have been able to support millions of Afghans and their hosts in neighbouring countries.
Vital humanitarian work resulted in further access to healthcare, primary and secondary education, financial assistance and improvements in water supply systems.