Afghanistan Refugee Crisis: Which Countries Have Offered Help?
The UN refugee agency has issued a non-return advisory for Afghanistan, barring forced returns of Afghan nationals.
In the wake of the staggering collapse of the civilian government at the hands of Taliban, Afghanistan has catapulted into an escalating humanitarian crisis.
Earlier this week, visuals of desperate Afghans rushing to Kabul airport and trying to flee their country had inundated the internet, demonstrating the refugee crisis unfolding in the nation.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Tuesday, 17 August, said that over 5,50,000 Afghans have already been internally displaced due to conflict and insecurity since the start of 2021.
"While civilians have so far only fled sporadically in fewer numbers to countries neighbouring Afghanistan, the situation continues to evolve rapidly," the UNHCR added.
Further, the refugee agency has also issued a non-return advisory for Afghanistan, barring forced returns of Afghan nationals, including asylum seekers who have had their claims rejected.
In view of the shifting political context in the country, several nations have opened their borders to the people fleeing the brutality of Taliban rule. Let's have a look at what some of these countries have said:
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meeting on Tuesday over the evacuation of Indian nationals from the battered nation.
However, the PM added that the Indian administration will extend refuge to Hindu and Sikh minorities in Afghanistan.
"India must not only protect our citizens, but we must also provide refuge to those Sikh and Hindu minorities who want to come to India, and we must also provide all possible help to our Afghan brothers and sisters who are looking towards India for assistance."PM Modi, as per news agency ANI
The country's foreign ministry had earlier said that it is "in constant touch with the representatives of Afghan Sikh and Hindu communities" of Afghanistan.
The United Kingdom on Tuesday said that up to 20,000 Afghans fleeing the Taliban will be resettled in the UK in the long term.
The Britain administration added that initially 5,000 refugees will be sheltered in the country under the new resettlement scheme, AFP reported.
The Home Office issued a statement and said, "This resettlement scheme will be kept under further review for future years, with up to a total of 20,000 in the long term."
Women, children and others who are compelled to flee owing to threats and persecution from the militant organisation will be prioritised, the government said, AFP reported.
Meanwhile, the government of Canada has stated that it will permanently resettle 20,000 "vulnerable" Afghans, including Sikhs and Hindus, news agency PTI reported.
The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco E L Mendicino, Minister of National Defence Harjit S Sajjan, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau announced their decision earlier in the week.
Minister Sajjan stated, "Women leaders, human rights defenders, journalists, religious minorities, LGBTI individuals, and others covered by this programme will be safe here in Canada, and I look forward to welcoming them to our country," news agency PTI quoted.
"As more Afghan refugees continue to seek shelter in Canada, we're redoubling our efforts to help 20,000 Afghans refugees, who remain vulnerable wherever they go, find safety here" Mendicino said.
Earlier in July, the Joe Biden administration had said that the US aims to evacuate up to 22,000 Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants, their families, and other at-risk Afghans, Reuters reported.
However, in the background of Taliban capturing Kabul, a US official spoke to Reuters and said, "It's a nice goal to have, but realistically it's going to be a challenge."
When the Pentagon ensures 6,000 troops on the ground in Kabul, the US aims to airlift between 5,000 and 9,000 people in a day. However, only 4,000 troops have reached Kabul so far.
Additionally, on Wednesday, the state of Utah wrote to Biden and expressed its desire to aid in the country's resettlement efforts.
"Utah was settled by refugees fleeing religious persecution. We understand the pain caused by forced migration and appreciate the contributions of refugees in our communities. Today, we sent a letter to @POTUS expressing our desire in helping those who are fleeing Afghanistan," Governor Spencer Cox wrote in a tweet.
According to the BBC, the East African nation of Uganda has said it will welcome 2,000 Afghan refugees. Refugee Minister Esther Anyakun spoke to the news organisation and said that the US government had requested for aid in the matter.
Anyakun added that the war-fleeing people will be tested for COVID-19 before being sent to quarantine facilities.
Uganda was expecting 500 refugees to arrive on Tuesday, however, discussions are still ongoing, BBC reported officials as saying.
On Sunday, Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama had stated that the country is "ready to shoulder its share of the burden" and allowed for temporary shelter of hundreds of refugees travelling to the United States.
He added, “Washington has already asked Albania to consider the possibility of serving as a transit country for a number of Afghan political immigrants whose final destination would be the United States," Hindustan Times reported.
The neighbouring country also set up temporary refugee camps in three bordering provinces for the fleeing population of Afghanistan.
Citing an interview of the interior ministry official Hossein Qasemi, Reuters reported, “Camps have been built in border areas in three provinces."
Responding to a request made by the United States administration, the Balkan territory of North Macedonia said that it will temporarily shelter 450 Afghan refugees bound for the US.
In a statement, the government said that it will let families of Afghans employed "in humanitarian and peacekeeping missions, activists from rights organizations, journalists, translators, students and scholarship holders" shelter in their nation, Reuters reported.
"Most of the 450 (Afghan) citizens are expected to arrive by the end of the week, depending on conditions at Kabul airport," it added.
(With inputs from Reuters, AFP, BBC and Hindustan Times)
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