UNHCR urges intensified support for displaced Afghans and refugee hosting nations

Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Country: Afghanistan, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Pakistan

As we enter the fifth decade of Afghan displacement, some 4.6 million Afghans remain uprooted globally – including 2.7 million registered as refugees, and another 2 million internally displaced.
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is appealing for intensified support for displaced Afghans and their hosting communities, ahead of the first-ever Global Refugee Forum in Geneva, next week.

As we enter the fifth decade of Afghan displacement, some 4.6 million Afghans remain uprooted globally – including some 2.7 million registered as refugees, and another two million displaced inside Afghanistan. Afghans represent the longest displaced and the longest dispossessed population under UNHCR’s mandate worldwide.

An overwhelming majority of some 90% Afghan refugees remain in the Islamic Republics of Pakistan and Iran. Afghans are also the single largest group of asylum-seekers arriving in Europe, due to a sharp deterioration in security in Afghanistan, and increasing financial pressure on hosting nations.

In both Iran and Pakistan, Afghan refugees access education and national healthcare systems. The results of this inclusive approach have been remarkable and world-leading. In Iran, the literacy of Afghan children has risen more than tenfold since 1979. Official figures estimate that some 480,000 Afghan refugees and undocumented children are currently enrolled in school for 2019-2020, indicating a continuing increase from previous years.

In Pakistan, the Government and UNHCR are working together under the Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) initiative to boost support to host communities and alleviate the burden placed on infrastructure and resources. Since 2009, these programmes have benefitted more than 12.4 million Pakistanis and Afghan refugees in total.

Inside Afghanistan, the Government is partnering with UNHCR and others to support returnees and host communities with return and reintegration projects, focusing on livelihoods, education, healthcare support and energy. This year alone, approximately 350,000 Afghans have been helped by sustainable development initiatives promoting access to key infrastructure including energy, education and affordable housing.

Socio-economic difficulties remain a serious obstacle to humanitarian efforts in all three countries. In Iran, economic downturn has given rise to soaring healthcare costs impacting Iranians and Afghans alike. Refugees have faced a corresponding 65 per cent increase in public health insurance premiums in recent months. Despite huge economic challenges, the Government remains committed to sustaining assistance and protection for Afghan refugees. But this cannot be managed alone and will require greater efforts by the international community at the upcoming Global Refugee Forum and beyond.

The overwhelming majority of Afghans both within the country and in exile are youth. In Pakistan and Iran, approximately three quarters are under the age of 25. These young refugees are the future of Afghanistan and are critical to shaping their communities – but they will require more support to do so.

As the world comes together for the Global Refugee Forum next week, it is imperative that those affected by decades of Afghan displacement remain a shared priority.

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Academic article on transparency in humanitarian logistics

Muhammad Khan is an HLA member and Research Scholar at the Department of International economics and business, Yeungnam University, South Korea and is working on his research thesis.

Together with colleagues Hee Yong Lee and Jung Han Bae, Mr Khan has published a lengthy article on the study.

https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/11/7/2078

Considering the importance of HL in reducing the impacts of disasters through fair distribution, this study aims to address the following question: “How can the performance, efficiency and effectiveness of HL be improved through transparency?” The primary data were collected through an online structured questionnaire from the employees participating in relief operations in Pakistan.

The study tested the items’ reliability, discriminate validity, goodness of fit, and psychometrical soundness of the hypothesized model. The study results indicate that the relationship between predictor variables (disclosure, clarity, accuracy, corporate governance, decision making and accountability) and the response variable (effective HL) is mediated by public trust.

Furthermore, the study suggests that public trust plays an imperative role in enhancing the performance, efficiency and effectiveness of HL. In addition, first, the study findings are expected to be beneficial for all stakeholders of disaster risk management, especially for governments, donors and humanitarian organizations (HOs), because they are persistently seeking strategies to assist victims.

Second, most importantly, this study raises awareness of the need to carefully evaluate decisions related to the fair distribution of relief items. Third, the structure of this article reveals research gaps and promising areas for further research. This article provides a deeper understanding of transparency in HL using empirical data, which has not been explored before.