Displaced Afghans face ‘continued deterioration’ in the country |
the IMO estimates that more than 300,000 Afghans have been internally displaced by the recent escalation of the conflict and that in June some 40,000 people fled each week to neighboring Iran.
Meanwhile, despite the significant dangers posed to civilians, more and more people are returning home from outside the country. One of them is Mustafa (not her real name) who fled Afghanistan 15 years ago due to insecurity.
He worked as a motorcycle mechanic in Pakistan until the effects of a struggling economy, compounded by the COVID-19[feminine pandémie et la montée de la xénophobie, l’ont contraint à fermer son entreprise à la fin de l’année dernière.
« Je n’avais pas une bonne vie au Pakistan et maintenant je suis de retour en Afghanistan. Tout ce que je souhaite, c’est une petite maison et la chance pour mes enfants d’avoir une éducation. S’ils peuvent aller à l’école, ce sera le plus grand accomplissement de ma vie », a déclaré Mustafa au poste frontière de Spin Boldak à la frontière afghano-pakistanaise, l’un des neuf principaux postes frontaliers capturés par les talibans ces dernières semaines.
Au cours des derniers mois, les talibans ont mené une vaste offensive nationale à la suite du retrait des troupes étrangères.
IOM / Muse Mohammed
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 1.5 million people have been deported or have chosen to leave neighboring Pakistan and Iran to return to Afghanistan. And people like Mustafa keep returning despite the territorial gains made by the Taliban.
Returnees need food, clothing, rent for a new home as many have lost their homes, and payment to cover transportation to their final destination. Many are supported by IOM.
“The situation in Afghanistan is getting worse every day from all angles,” said Stuart Simpson, IOM Chief of Mission in Afghanistan. “Now is not the time to turn a blind eye to the plight of Afghanistan. International attention and advocacy are urgently needed to bring the suffering of Afghan civilians to the world. A negotiated ceasefire remains the best solution to keep the Afghan civilian population safe and potentially create the conditions for better service delivery and access required to reach vulnerable people with care and assistance ”.
IOM / Muse Mohammed
Humanitarian space is shrinking
The UN estimates that nearly half of the Afghan population, 18.5 million people, will need humanitarian support in 2021 to address the multi-faceted crisis, caused by conflict, COVID-19 and widespread underdevelopment and poverty.
However, as the fighting intensifies and expands, the operating space for humanitarians providing life-saving assistance continues to shrink dramatically.
“IOM will ensure that we are prepared for the continued deterioration of the humanitarian situation,” said Stuart Simpson. “We will do everything possible to keep our programming operational through targeted access negotiations with parties to the conflict to allow critical interventions to progress, but only to the extent that we can ensure the safety of our personnel.”
Attacks on health workers
The conflict has accelerated attacks on healthcare workers across the country and led to the closure of hundreds of healthcare facilities, which has had a critical impact on the country’s fight against COVID-19.
As the movement of people is the primary driver of COVID-19 transmission in Afghanistan, significant cross-border returns have acted as a catalyst for transmission amid low vaccine access.
“The availability of the COVID-19 vaccine in Afghanistan is extremely low,” said IOM Afghanistan chief Stuart Simpson. “This country of 40 million people has received just over 3 million doses. Vaccination hesitation is still strong and the equitable distribution of the available doses remains a major challenge ”.
See the latest figures from the World Health Organization on the number of COVID-19 cases and vaccination in Afghanistan here.
“I belong to this country and it belongs to me”
As Afghanistan becomes increasingly precarious, one reality is clear: communities across the country will continue to move in search of peace, security, jobs and services.
“When I walked through the doors of my home country, Afghanistan, I started to cry because I am now back in my country with my children for the first time,” Mustafa said.
“Even though there is war and fighting here and even though I am fighting, I would rather be at home. I belong to this country and it belongs to me ”.