Ahmad lives in Madrid and from there he lived the last days of August with the anguish of being able to get his family out of Afghanistan. “The feeling of helplessness of not being able to be there has been horrible … The risks were many and I was very afraid, but they are already in Madrid. We have achieved it,” he confessed to elDiario.es in an article that narrated the efforts of this young man to, from a distance, help his relatives escape the hell that plagues Afghanistan and that has been accentuated with the coming to power of the Taliban regime.
Although currently the news has been marked by what was happening at the Kabul airport, which collapsed before the attempt of citizens to flee and the evacuations of international powers, as happened with Ahmad’s family, the migratory movements of this conflict have been constant in recent decades.
It is estimated that there are more than 2.6 million Afghan and Afghan refugees worldwide and 3.5 million who have fled their homes but are unable to leave the country; that is, they are internally displaced. An exodus that has skyrocketed due to increased violence and insecurity, leading to a humanitarian emergency. So much so that, so far this year alone, 550,000 internally displaced persons have been registered, of which 120,000 are concentrated in the province of Kabul.
“We are providing emergency response for people who have been displaced, who need help to save their lives immediately; people who fled their homes with absolutely nothing. We provide basic relief items, we provide shelter, water, medical care, sanitation, food. We also provide cash assistance whenever possible ”, explains Caroline Van Buren, Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Afghanistan.
“We started the emergency response some time ago because the conflict has been constant. After the announcement in May that the international military forces would be leaving, we did have this increase, but the conflict has not stopped.
UNHCR, which operates in nearly two-thirds of Afghanistan’s districts, responds to the population’s most critical priorities to save lives and help assess the needs of nearly 550,000 displaced people since the beginning of the year. A mission that they carry out together with their local partners and that has allowed them to help more than 230,000 people in the country in 2021.
It is a work that UNHCR does not want to leave, so it will stay and continue to help the Afghan people, in collaboration with local entities, as long as you have access to populations in need. A challenge that, in the words of Van Buren, “requires the support of the international community and an urgent reinforcement of funding to support the regional response, both in preparation within the country, and in neighboring Iran and Pakistan.”
While it is true that four decades of conflict and crisis leave their mark on Afghanistan, today its people face a changing context, marked by uncertainty and with a high risk of human rights violations, especially against women and children. and girls.
80% of the displaced population are women and children, like Maryam and her children
“I was at war. The bombs were falling. My father and many relatives died, so we were forced to escape. I didn’t want my children to die too ”confesses Maryam (not her real name to protect her safety), 24, a mother of four, who fled from Sholgara district to the makeshift Nawabad Farabi-ha camp outside the city of Mazar-e Sharif, in northern Afghanistan. “We didn’t have time to collect anything. We only fled with a blanket ”, recalls this woman sitting in one of the tents that, with cloth and sticks, are raised to serve as a refuge for about 100 families, including hers.
His story It is one of many that hide the chilling figures of violence that plagues the civilian population in Afghanistan and that especially affects women and children. According to official estimates, 80% of displaced Afghans are women and children. Like Maryam, her mother and her children who, although they escaped the siege of violence that increasingly put their lives at risk, today face harsh conditions in the settlement, where temperatures exceed 40 degrees and basic goods such as food and supplies are scarce. Water.
A sea of adversity in which Maryam continues to row towards a life of dignity and peace: “I want my children to be someone in Afghanistan, to be doctors, engineers … That is my hope.” A dream shared by thousands of Afghans and Afghans, which can only be achieved with a firm response from the international community and which also requires the Urgent support from civil society to alleviate the humanitarian emergency facing Afghanistan, since UNHCR has received less than 50% of the funds necessary to cover the basic needs of these people who are suffering so much.