Sat, 04 Dec 2021

Geneva [Switzerland], October 16 (ANI): Amid the worsening humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, on Friday, urged countries to step up reunification for Afghans whose families remain in the country or who are displaced across the region.

Afghan refugees have been approaching UNHCR offices, desperately concerned about the safety and welfare of their loved ones left behind, or living in neighbouring countries, said UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo at a press briefing.

"While recent political developments in Afghanistan have not led to large-scale cross-border displacement, many among pre-existing Afghan refugee and asylum seeker populations remain separated from their families owing to the inaccessibility of family reunification procedures," she told journalists in Geneva.

"Many are approaching UNHCR offices, desperately concerned for the safety and welfare of their family members who remain in Afghanistan or neighbouring countries."The call comes as the humanitarian crisis in the country continues to deteriorate as winter approaches, UN News reported. Half the population, some 20 million people, depend on aid to survive, and the number is rising, the reported.

With the Afghan economy on the verge of collapse, the UN has been pressing the global community to increase support to the country. However, appeals for USD 606 million were launched last month but only around 38 per cent has been funded.

Speaking from the capital, Kabul, UNHCR Spokesperson Babar Baloch said this week he was at a distribution centre where hundreds of people gathered to receive assistance every day, UN News reported.

"We saw an old mother collapsing before our eyes and some colleagues attended to her. The reason is she hasn't eaten for days, and she is the one who is heading the household, because of what has happened to her," he recalled.

"We have grandfathers, we have children, we have little girls who should be in school, queueing up in the redistribution queue and then you have mothers who are pleading for one more pack of cereal or milk."UNHCR is urging governments to prioritise and simplify reunification admission procedures so that Afghan refugees and their families can be together again.

In the current context, Mantoo said that many of those seeking to reunify with their loved ones in third countries will in any case qualify as refugees and be eligible for all refugee protection safeguards.

"With many embassies and consulates currently closed in Afghanistan, UNHCR is also urging countries to take into account the constraints that refugees may face in being able to meet taxing administrative and documentation requirements for these admissions." (ANI)

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