Sat. Nov 27th, 2021

Norwegian Refugee Council says as many as 300,000 Afghans have crossed the border since the Taliban took power in August.

As many as 4,000-5,000 Afghans have crossed into Iran daily since the Taliban captured Kabul in August and hundreds of thousands more are expected to arrive in the coming winter, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said on Wednesday.

The aid group said as many as 300,000 Afghans had crossed the border since the Taliban victory and called for more international support for Iran, which is struggling with a deep economic crisis of its own.

“Iran cannot be expected to house so many Afghans with so little support from the international community,” Jan Egeland, secretary general of the NRC, said in a statement. “There must be an immediate range of aid within Afghanistan and in neighboring countries such as Iran, ahead of the deadly winter cold.”

The Taliban’s shock victory as the last US troops prepared to leave Afghanistan sparked a mass exodus of officials and others linked to the former Western-backed government and other vulnerable Afghans.

Afghan citizens sit at an Afghan refugee camp in Zahedan, Iran [Majid Asgaripour/WANA via Reuters]

The sudden end of international support and the freezing of Afghan central bank assets held abroad have also pushed the country close to economic collapse, raising fears of a refugee crisis similar to the 2015 exodus from Syria that rocked Europe has.

Iran and Pakistan together house about 90 percent of the five million Afghans displaced outside their country, although not all of them are considered refugees.

“We have been praising Iran for welcoming and hosting millions of displaced Afghans for the past four decades. “But now the international community must act to support Afghanistan’s neighbors,” Egeland said.

UN agencies say as many as 22.8 million people – more than half of Afghanistan’s 39 million people – face acute food insecurity compared to 14 million just two months ago.

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