GENEVA - The UN refugee agency is calling for intensified support for millions of Afghans who remain displaced after more than four decades of war
A record-breaking 70.8 million people globally are forcibly displaced by conflict and persecution. Among them are some 4.6 million Afghans. More than half are registered as refugees and another 2 million are displaced inside Afghanistan.
The UN refugee agency says Afghans represent the longest-displaced and the longest-dispossessed population in the world. UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch told VOA 90 percent of Afghanistan's 2.7 million refugees are in Pakistan and Iran.
"In terms of their hosting countries, 1979 was the first year when Afghans started to flee the conflict, today we are 2019," Baloch said. " After four decades and 40 years, Afghans are still being hosted by Pakistan, by Iran."
Baloch said Afghans are increasingly fleeing to Europe to escape the sharp deterioration in security inside Afghanistan and the growing financial pressure on their countries of refuge.
"Afghan asylum seekers constitute the majority of people arriving in Europe in terms of their asylum applications. This year, we have seen in the eastern Mediterranean around 70,000 in total arrivals by the sea, 37.4 percent of them are Afghans."
Baloch said this mass exodus highlights the need for continuing protection and support for Afghans both inside and outside their country. The overwhelming majority of these Afghans, he noted, are young people.
He said they are the future of Afghanistan. However, without international support, he warns their ability to create a peaceful, stable society will be difficult. According to Baloch, less than half of UNHCR's more than $500 million appeal for Afghan refugees and internally displaced has been met this year.