This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
A plane carrying winter relief from the UN Refugee Agency’s global stockpiles in Dubai is landing this afternoon in Kabul, Afghanistan.
The UNHCR-chartered plane took off from Sharjah earlier today, arriving in Kabul at 15:30 hours local time (1200 hours Geneva time), carrying 33 tons of winterization kits for displaced Afghans. It was the first of three UNHCR flights, with the next two scheduled to land in the Afghan capital on 4 and 7 November.
Humanitarian needs are rising rapidly in Afghanistan ahead of winter, when temperatures can dip to -25⁰C. Many displaced families lack proper shelter while some of those who have recently returned to their places of origin have found their homes unfit for the cold season.
Weighing 25kg, each winterization kit contains flooring, partitions, and other items to improve tent insulation against the cold. The kits also provide heat resistant protection to enable the installation of a stove.
Conflict and insecurity have displaced 3.5 million Afghans inside the country, including some 700,000 forced from their homes so far this year. UNHCR is rushing to provide winter assistance to some 500,000 displaced Afghans, returnees and local host communities by the end of 2021.
UNHCR continues to distribute other much needed humanitarian assistance to displaced Afghans. Nearly half a million have received assistance so far this year, including emergency shelter kits, food rations, blankets, kitchen sets, stoves, solar panels, solar lanterns, and cash for the most vulnerable.
We are using land, sea and air routes to bring humanitarian relief into Afghanistan and other countries in the region so we can respond to the increasing needs. Further relief supplies have also been prepositioned in Termez, Uzbekistan, ready to be trucked into Afghanistan as needed.
As we continue to scale up our humanitarian response, more resources are urgently needed to reach all those who will need help to survive the harsh winter ahead.
UNHCR appeals to the international community to urgently increase financial contributions to assist displaced Afghans, both within and outside the country, who remain extremely vulnerable.
In addition to emergency relief for the internally displaced, UNHCR also continues to work in communities where former refugees have returned, by investing in infrastructure including education, health, livelihoods and shelter.
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The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established on 14 December 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee issues. It strives to ensure that everyone has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another state, with the option to voluntarily return home when conditions are conducive for return, integrate locally or resettle to a third country. UNHCR has twice won the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1954 for its ground-breaking work in helping the refugees of Europe, and in 1981 for its worldwide assistance to refugees.