Afghans who may be in danger after the Taliban’s takeover “have no clear way out”, the United Nations refugee agency said on Friday. Shabia Mantoo, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told a media briefing in Geneva that the agency remains concerned about the risk of human rights violations against civilians, including women and girls after the internationally recognised Afghan government was ousted by the insurgents.
The vast majority of Afghans are not able to leave the country through regular channels,” said Mantoo. “As of today, those who may be in danger have no clear way out.”
The UN agency called on the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan to keep their borders open in the wake of the evolving humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans have been internally displaced, according to several reports, and many are trying to flee Afghanistan fearing persecution under the Taliban’s rule.
The UNHCR spokesperson noted that several countries have announced resettlement or evacuation programmes for Afghans at risk but full details of these initiatives have not been announced yet.
“While widespread fighting has decreased since the takeover of the country by the Taliban on Sunday, the full impact of the evolving situation is not yet clear. Many Afghans are extremely anxious about what the future holds,” the UN refugee agency said in a statement released after the briefing.
The recent footage from Kabul airport showing desperate Afghans trying to board flights shocked the world, which, according to UNHCR, spoke powerfully about the “sense of fear and uncertainty among many Afghans.” Welcoming the efforts of several countries to protect at-risk Afghan nationals through bilateral evacuation programmes, the agency said all states must preserve the right to asylum for Afghans arriving through regular or spontaneous means.