UN official describes Afghanistan a ‘forever emergency’ amid funding shortfall

Photo: UNHCR

Afghanistan is grappling with an enduring “forever emergency” exacerbated by an isolated nation intent on dismantling human rights, warned Leonard Zulu, the representative for the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in the country, as reported by EU Observer on Monday.

“The emergency that we had in August 2021 did not disappear,” he emphasized, referring to the shocking Taliban takeover that unfolded globally. “And that’s why I’m saying it’s a forever emergency that will remain as a recurrent emergency,” he added, underscoring the UN agency’s current funding challenges.

Zulu, based in Kabul, outlined the difficulties faced by Afghans and aid agencies during his visit to Brussels on Monday, the Quoted the Brussels-based newspaper, EU Observer, reported.

In the previous year, approximately six million people were on the brink of famine, he revealed, compounded by an additional 29 million requiring humanitarian assistance. Afghanistan has also witnessed a series of earthquakes and floods causing devastation to villages and displacing populations.

Since November, aid agencies operating in the country have grappled with Pakistan’s decision to deport nearly half a million Afghans back to Afghanistan. Hosting around 1.7 million Afghans, many of whom fled the Soviet occupation and the 2021 Taliban takeover, Pakistan’s enforcement of deportations began on November 1.

“They started enforcing this on the first of November,” Zulu stated, highlighting the challenge of Afghans being forced to return, some of whom have never set foot in Afghanistan. The deportation and reintegration efforts coincide with the onset of winter, further complicating the situation.

At its peak, approximately 20,000 individuals arrived daily from Pakistan, a figure that has since decreased to around three or four thousand. Zulu noted that the usual return figure was much lower, around 300 or 200.

In addition to the Pakistani deportations, there is an influx of people arriving from Iran, placing additional strain on already stretched aid agencies, Zulu remarked.

These developments unfold as over 404,000 migrants have been expelled from Pakistan in the past month, with as many as 2,000 immigrants returning from Iran daily. The situation adds to the complexity of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.