By Ajibola Abayomi
Geneva- The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has been following with great concern the developments in Afghanistan and the grave consequences for displaced people and civilians needing humanitarian assistance, in a country already severely affected by years of conflict and drought.
“While the current situation presents difficult new challenges, IOM will strive to continue its programmes and provide assistance to displaced communities while ensuring the safety and wellbeing of its staff across the country,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino.
“The security of humanitarian actors, and respect for humanitarian principles, are prerequisites for a continued and effective response to the needs of vulnerable people, and assurances by all parties involved must be provided.”
Nearly 400,000 people have been displaced since the beginning of the year as a result of ongoing violence. More than 5 million others are already internally displaced and reliant on humanitarian aid.
IOM reiterates that the safety and protection of civilians remains the number one priority and appeals to all parties to ensure unhindered access for all humanitarian actors providing relief and much-needed assistance to affected populations who should be able to continue to exercise their fundamental rights.
Due to instability and recent security developments in the capital Kabul, movement to and from the country has been hindered, affecting IOM operations.
Considering the prevailing insecurity across the country, the Organization’s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) Programme, as well as post arrival reintegration assistance to returnees, have been put on hold for now.
IOM also commends the decisions by several States to halt forced returns to Afghanistan and calls for wider adoption of this moratorium.
Ensuring the safety of civilians is paramount and should be a priority for all concerned. IOM urges all parties to continue efforts to maintain dialogue and work towards a peaceful resolution of the situation, prioritizing the welfare of the Afghan people.
We echo the call by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres for an immediate end to violence and the protection of the rights of civilians.