This year, more than half a million civilians have been displaced within Afghanistan, as the crisis remains overwhelmingly within the country
Women and children amount to as much as 80 percent of more than quarter million people who were forced to flee since the end of May
UNHCR has called all states to ensure that refugees are able to seek safety, regardless of their legal status. An inability to do so may risk countless lives.
Increasing violence and insecurity have prompted the displacement of more than 550,000 Afghan civilians this year. UNHCR’s primary concern for civilians who may be at risk within Afghanistan is that they are able to seek safety, including in neighbouring countries if needed.
UNHCR has called all states to ensure that refugees are able to seek safety, regardless of their current legal status. UNHCR has also called on countries neighbouring Afghanistan to keep their borders open. An inability to seek safety may risk countless civilian lives.
“More than 250,000 people were forced to flee since the end of May, out of which 80 percent are women and children. We are particularly worried about the impact of the conflict on women and girls”, said UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo at a press briefing in Geneva.
Beyond the primary concern for civilians who may be at risk, UNHCR is focused on meeting humanitarian needs within the country. UNHCR will stay and deliver humanitarian assistance and support for the Afghan people, including through partners, for as long as it has access to populations in need and safety for its colleagues and partners in a complex and challenging security environment.
UNHCR has welcomed the recent actions taken by several countries to temporarily halt deportations of failed asylum-seekers and called all states to stop the forcible returns of Afghan nationals who have previously been determined not to be in need of international protection.
UNHCR has underlined that states have a legal and moral responsibility to allow those fleeing Afghanistan to seek safety, and not to forcibly return refugees, adding that a moratorium on forced returns should stay in place until the situation permits return in safety and dignity.
As of today, the Afghanistan crisis remains predominantly within the country itself. There has been no mass movement of Afghan refugees across international borders this year to date.
“Throughout the decades of conflict, Afghanistan has suffered a lot, and now we’re witnessing a tragic chapter and large scale internal displacement amid an unfolding humanitarian emergency, with security and human rights rapidly deteriorating. The full impact of the current situation, which is very fluid, is not yet clear”, said Francesca Bonelli, UNHCR Representative in Serbia.
Since the beginning of this year, around 8500 Afghanistan nationals arrived to Serbia, out of which approximately 600 are children, mostly unaccompanied boys, who require specific protection. At the moment, 1177 Afghanistan nationals are accommodated in 13 centers in Serbia, run by SCRM. The trend of arrivals hasn’t changed in the previous months. Their main reasons for leaving Afghanistan were fear from harm and armed conflict.
“With the field teams in Preševo and Belgrade, we are monitoring closely the movement in the region and we do not see, at the moment, an increase of Afghan nationals. The trend is stable as in the past months. Currently, it is not expected that Serbia will see the increased arrival of people from Afghanistan, as the crisis is predominantly within the country“, Bonelli concluded.
While displacement has been predominantly within Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan together host around 90% of all Afghan refugees and have been doing so for over 40 years. Any major influx of refugees would clearly require the international community to step up immediate and sustained support to both Afghanistan and its neighbors, in a spirit of responsibility and burden-sharing.
Media contact: Dušan Lopušina, UNHCR Srbija, 063 434 173, email@example.com