UNHCR appeals for $613 million for Afghan refugees and hosts 

The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, on Wednesday rolled out a new appeal to support 7.9 million people – 5.2 million people from Afghanistan, including refugees, as well as 2.7 million of their local hosts across the region.

The plan, titled The Regional Refugee Response Plan for the Afghanistan Situation 2023, seeks $613 million to support Afghan nationals sheltering in five neighboring countries: Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

According to UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo, these five countries collectively host an estimated 8.2 million Afghans, including over two million registered refugees. UNHCR stated that while many have been in the region for decades, mostly in Iran and Pakistan an estimated 1.6 million have arrived in the region since 2021.

In addition, over 70 percent of those in need of support are women and children, Mantoo reported.

Meanwhile a separate UN-wide plan has also been launched to respond to humanitarian needs inside Afghanistan. That plan seeks $4.62 billion for some 23.7 million Afghans in 2023.

Last week the UN reported that Afghanistan is one of the world’s largest and most severe humanitarian crises and a record 28.3 million people require humanitarian and protection assistance.

This year’s appeal comes after last year’s appeal was only 52 percent funded. The agency had requested $623 million but only received $321 million for Afghan nationals living in neighboring countries.

In October last year, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that the humanitarian appeal for inside Afghanistan for 2022 was $4.4 billion but was  $2.47 billion (56 percent) underfunded.

The UN and its partners are now appealing to the international community to remember the people of Afghanistan – not to forget them, Mantoo said.