The world must not overlook Afghanistan because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the UN refugee head said warning that ignoring its humanitarian needs might be “extremely risky”.
Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, who is on a four-day visit to Afghanistan, said the international community must continue to engage with Afghanistan’s Taliban authorities since the country is in critical need of humanitarian aid.
“The entire world’s attention is concentrated on Ukraine right now,” Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told journalists at a UN facility in Kabul.
“However, my advice from here is to remember that there are other problems that require attention and resources, and Afghanistan is one of them.”
The Taliban took power on August 15, following a hurried withdrawal of US-led foreign forces, and the country’s humanitarian crisis has worsened since then.
According to the United Nations and other international humanitarian groups, more than half of Afghanistan’s 38 million people will go hungry this winter.
The UN issued its largest-ever single-country assistance appeal in January, requesting $5 billion to avert a humanitarian disaster.
However, Grandi stated that the crisis in Ukraine has already started making raising donations for Afghanistan difficult.
He said the UNHCR had issued a $340 million plea for Afghanistan in 2022, but had only raised approximately $100 million so far.
Grandi admitted that the security situation in the country had improved since the Taliban took power, but added that negotiations about aid with the Islamists have become more “frank and transparent.”
If the Taliban make progress on areas such as women’s rights, he believes that continuous international aid will continue to flow to Afghanistan.
Global donors, led by the United States, have urged that any foreign help be conditional on the Taliban’s position on women’s access to education and employment.