Afghan refugees | A UN official says Canada must do more

(Ottawa) Canada and its international partners must do more to support Afghanistan’s neighbors if they are to help vulnerable Afghans flee their Taliban-controlled country now, a UN official said.


Mike Blanchfield
Canadian Press

Kelly Clements, the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, told the Canadian Press this week that Iran and Pakistan lacked funds to deal with the influx of Afghans who have since attempted to flee the country, and that the Taliban regained power in mid-August.

Several former artists and their families are facing reprisals from the Taliban for their support of the NATO military mission, in which Canada, the United States and many other countries have participated for twenty years.

Other vulnerable Afghans, particularly women, face a bleak future in the Taliban regime and hope to flee the country. While waiting to be able to escape, these threatened Afghans are hiding in “safe havens” in their country.

Canada has agreed to resettle up to 40,000 Afghans, but at the same time NGOs say money is running out to maintain these “safe havens” in Afghanistan, which could put up to 1,700 people at risk.

NSI Clements would not comment on these shelters, but acknowledges that Canada’s commitment to resettling Afghans sets a strong example internationally. She believes, however, that much should be done to enhance the ability of neighbors Iran and Pakistan to absorb those who succeed in escaping the Taliban.

M said. ‘Borders were exceptionally narrow’I Clements.

Support Iran and Pakistan

She added that even before the Taliban seized power, Pakistan had only half of the funds needed to support refugees, while Iran received only a quarter. They really feel that the international community has not supported them enough. ”

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UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is working hard to help displaced people in Afghanistan, where record numbers have fled the countryside to the cities as the Taliban advanced to victory last summer.

This exodus has led to an unprecedented food crisis. Other UN agencies predicted earlier this week that more than half of the Afghan population – more than 22 million people – will face severe famine in the coming months.

“There can be all kinds of reasons why people have to leave. M . saidI Clements. We are present in every province [afghane] And in two-thirds of the counties, we have a number of partners that we work with. ”

She said that despite the Taliban’s seizure of power, UNHCR was able to maintain access to vulnerable populations. We have a long history of operational and local support in areas traditionally controlled by the Taliban. So this commitment is not new. ”

Those who can escape face tightly controlled border posts, where documents, visas, passports and other travel documents are needed, but often scarce. “Obviously we would like the neighboring countries to allow these people to seek safety in their own country,” she said.

Canada has experience

Canada’s commitment to Afghan resettlement appears to focus more on those already abroad. butI Clements says this commitment is highly regarded internationally. “We’ve seen other countries raise their hands, and I think it’s due to Canada’s leadership.”

Before the current crisis in Afghanistan, the United Nations ranked the country in third place in terms of the number of refugees, with 2.6 million, after Venezuela with 4 million, and Syria with 6.7 million.

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NSI Clements believes the newcomer’s resettlement roadmap to Canada will serve him well in welcoming the Afghans.

She argues that community care and other UN-funded programs have shown good success in giving refugees “the tools and support they need to start earning a living and support their families faster, and give back to the world, Canada and society.”

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