DRC acknowledges and supports the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation's (MoRR) request to the international community to cease deportations to Afghanistan for the time being.
“When looking at the escalating conflict and ongoing drought in Afghanistan right now, we are increasingly worried about the safety of the civilian population in the country and how it will affect the already high levels of humanitarian needs,” says Charlotte Slente, Secretary General of DRC; “In light of this situation it would be a reckless gamble with human lives to forcefully return anyone to Afghanistan.”
As one of the key international humanitarian actors in Afghanistan for more than 30 years, DRC is present on the ground and able to follow the situation and development at first hand.
Charlotte Slente, Secretary General of DRC
Currently, the situation is changing by the day and getting increasingly unstable due to widespread insecurity, intensified conflict between state and non-state actors, and general uncertainty as a result of US and NATO troop withdrawals. Already in 2021, more than 540,000 people have been internally displaced, and an estimated 18,4 million people - nearly half of the population - are in need of humanitarian aid. The humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is compounded by a drought now affecting more than 80% of the country including in areas where people are still recovering from the 2018 drought that exhausted resources and caused large scale displacement. Furthermore, COVID-19 spread is rampant as a third wave is sweeping through Afghanistan, where capacity to test, treat and vaccinate people is limited or not existing.
“DRC urges all countries to suspend all deportations to Afghanistan for the time being,” says Charlotte Slente: “Any return and reintegration to Afghanistan at this time is likely to fail and is rather a risk that will increase vulnerability and expose returnees to further risks of harm, destitution, and precarity.”
The drought in Afghanistan adds to challenges already faced by Afghans amid escalating conflict and insecurity as well as the health and socio-economic impacts of COVID-19. Nearly a third of the population is facing emergency levels of food insecurity, with almost half of children under-five at risk of acute malnutrition.
As one of the largest informal settlements in Afghanistan’s Herat province, Shahrak Sabz is home to thousands of families from neighbouring provinces who were displaced during a drought in 2018. Three years on, they struggle to meet their most basic needs and cope with freezing temperatures.