Taliban-controlled Afghanistan is in "desperate" straits, UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi stated Wednesday after a three-day visit, calling for "urgent and sustained" help from the international community for Afghans.
“The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan remains desperate,” said Grandi, quoted by a UNHCR statement.
Over 3.5 million have been displaced from their homes by conflict and remain inside the country, including some 630,000 uprooted during 2021, while 18 million Afghans require aid, the statement said.
"If public services and the economy collapse, we will see even greater suffering, instability, and displacement both within and outside the country,” Grandi warned.
He urged the world to rapidly engage with Afghanistan "in order to prevent a much bigger humanitarian crisis that will have not only regional, but global implications.”
During his visit to Kabul, Grandi met with the interim Afghan government, as well as some of the hundreds of UN and NGO staff that have stayed in the country and maintained operations, despite the challenging conditions.
Grandi said he welcomed the interim Afghan government's pledge to provide security and to grant humanitarian access throughout the country.
"They recognized the needs and thanked the UN for providing help to Afghans,” he said.
“We also discussed other critical issues like ensuring that women staff can return safely to work, the importance of education for all Afghan children, and the safety and security of all Afghans, including minorities.”
“I encouraged the interim government to reiterate these important commitments publicly, and to ensure that they are upheld in practice,” he added.
During his visit, Grandi oversaw the arrival of a convoy of trucks at a UNHCR warehouse in Kabul that had arrived from Pakistan via the Torkham border crossing. The trucks were loaded with thousands of tents and other relief items for displaced Afghan families.
UNHCR has already supported more than 300,000 displaced people inside Afghanistan with relief items and cash assistance this year, and is rapidly scaling up its operations to help more people ahead of the fast-approaching winter, the statement said.
In Mazar-e-Sharif, in northern Afghanistan, Grandi also inaugurated a carpet workshop (photo) that employs 45 workers who are supporting hundreds of family members.