UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is closely monitoring the increasingly volatile security situation in Afghanistan. Since the beginning of the year, over 550,000 Afghans have been internally displaced by conflict, but the recent developments in Kabul have since forced a growing number of Afghan nationals to seek safety outside of their country.
In a global statement on 17 August, we appealed for the international community’s humanitarian support in ensuring that those who have fled Afghanistan, especially women and children who are most vulnerable in situations of displacement, are granted entry to all territories where they may apply for asylum regardless of their legal status.
The Philippine government, as it has done on numerous occasions in the past, has been quick to express its openness to receive asylum seekers from Afghanistan. UNHCR Philippines lauds this prompt action and initiative to welcome forcibly displaced Afghan nationals.
Similarly, we are grateful for the generosity of Filipinos who have pledged monetary support for our humanitarian operations to aid people still at risk in Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan. We also acknowledge the numerous messages from concerned individuals who have reached out to us on behalf of Afghan friends or family who require assistance.
“The people of Afghanistan are now facing an emergency on top of an emergency due to the added threat of conflict and insecurity against the backdrop of a global health crisis,” said UNHCR Philippines Head of National Office Maria Ermina Valdeavilla-Gallardo. “The show of support from both the Philippine government and the Filipino people is particularly generous and a true testament to our bayanihan spirit, which extends not only to our countrymen, but also to those seeking refuge from beyond our shores.”
UNHCR Philippines stands ready to provide technical assistance to the Department of Justice – Refugees and Stateless Persons Protection Unit (DOJ-RSPPU) in the fair processing of the asylum applications of displaced Afghans who may arrive in the coming weeks. UNHCR will work with the Philippine government and civil society partners to ensure the protection of those seeking refuge, including their right to dignity and privacy during this challenging time.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi noted that millions of people face an uncertain future, and the complex situation in Afghanistan only continues to evolve. Thus, we reiterate our gratefulness to the Philippines for its willingness to open its doors to a vulnerable displaced population amid the pandemic. UNHCR remains committed to supporting the Philippine government as it leads the country’s whole-of-society response to this humanitarian crisis.
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See UNHCR’s global briefing note on Afghanistan as of 13 August.