Geneva Conference on Afghanistan
Finding solutions to displacement is essential to building peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Next year, it will be forty years since refugees began to leave the country in large numbers. Since then, millions have been displaced within the country and beyond its borders. For many families, this means two, or even three, generations of children born and raised in exile. For others, it means a life of repeated disruption, displacement, return and displacement again - families ripped apart by circumstance, unable to find the stability that would allow them to build a secure and prosperous future.
Forced displacement continues today - as conflict, insecurity and drought take their toll. Millions of Afghans remain in need of international protection, while at the same time broader social and economic dynamics also continue to shape human mobility across the region.
I wish to acknowledge in particular the long generosity of the Islamic Republics of Iran and Pakistan, and of their people. Together, they continue to provide protection and support to 2.5 million Afghan refugees - a gesture of solidarity and humanity that calls for much greater international attention and support.
In the year of the Global Compact on Refugees, we need to stay the course and show continued support and solidarity with the Afghan people, host communities and host countries, and to continue to press for solutions amidst continuing challenges.
Return and reintegration continue to be an option for some refugees, and their right to voluntary return must be upheld. Investments made now will also pave the way for others to return when the broader security environment is more favourable. Important policy measures are being pursued by the Government of Afghanistan. The reintegration of refugees and the internally displaced is now an integral part of national development plans, with all relevant line Ministries fully engaged.
Iran and Pakistan have also taken important measures that reflect the emphasis on inclusion and support to host communities at the heart of the Global Compact.
Steps towards regularising the status of undocumented Afghans are under way including through the issuance of passports - gradually building an approach towards safe and orderly migration that more comprehensively reflects the range of factors shaping Afghan population movements across the region, while retaining international protection for those who need it.
These important measures must be recognised and supported, in the spirit of international responsibility-sharing. The plight of Afghan refugees, and the internally displaced, remains a test of our humanity; and our commitment to international solidarity over self-interest.