- Afghanistan is a multi-ethnic country with Baluch, Hazara, Pashtun, Tajiks and Turkmen (Pashtun and Tajiks constituting nearly 70% of the population).
- The current Islamic Emirate, declared on 15th August, is practising what appears to be a non-inclusive approach to governance of the nation.
- The government appears to be acting in a manner inconsistent with the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, particularly in its treatment of women and girls, gay people, non-Moslems and other minorities.
- Economic hardship – in terms of currency devaluation, blockage of foreign assets, bank closures, loss of employment by many public sector workers (mainly women) – is affecting much of the population, leading to widespread hunger, even starvation.
- The loss of human rights and the economic hardship has created more than 600,000 displaced people, according to the UNHCR.
- The refugees heading to neighbouring countries (mainly Pakistan and Iran, although these are now blocking refugees, contrary to their asylum obligations) are facing extreme hardship due to the difficulty of the neighbouring states in receiving and caring for them for an indefinite period, as happened in the previous waves in 1996 and 2004.
- All Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries are now at risk: from terrorism, the flow of drugs, a surge of refugees and regional instability caused by an Afghanistan in turmoil.
- Issues of sanctions, recognition of the Taliban government and having a public enquiry are not current priorities.
- Humanitarian assistance – particularly food – is urgently needed (and will help to reduce the flow of refugees). This should be linked to assurances of human rights for girls, women, non-Moslems and others currently being discriminated against.
- Since UN agencies seem to have the trust of the ruling Talibans, humanitarian assistance should be channelled through UN agencies on the scene (such as UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNAMA), as well as through NGOs, such as the Red Cross and the Red Crescent.
- There needs to be a concerted effort by the neighbouring countries – Pakistan, Iran, China, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan – together with the US, the UK, and other Europeans to limit the risks to these neighbouring countries, preferably set within a UN framework.
- All relevant departments of the UK government should work closely with key partners (both within the UK and around the world) to fund, expedite and support the humane evacuation and resettlement of persons at risk of maltreatment or intimidation, with their families. For those most at risk, this should be to third countries outside the region, including members of the Commonwealth, the EU and NATO, as well as to the UK itself. Countries neighbouring Afghanistan, who will bear the brunt of refugee flows, must be helped to do so.
- The UK government should use its position on the UN Security Council to ensure the Council takes action to protect human rights, promote international humanitarian law, and ensure that the Afghan government is held to account for any war crimes, terrorist acts and other atrocities, including by the International Criminal Court (to which Afghanistan is a party).
In this context, UNA LASER urges our members to write to their MPs to encourage the UK to support Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries and to help displaced, refugee and other Afghans suffering hardship resulting from the recent change of government. They should also urge the UK government to use its position on the UN Security Council to hold the Afghan government to account.Like us on Facebook