In Afghanistan, A Population in Crisis
GENEVA / NEW YORK, 24 September 2001 - A humanitarian crisis of stunning proportions is unfolding in Afghanistan. Twenty years of brutal conflict, three years of severe drought, large-scale human rights abuses and significant population movements spurred most recently by the present geo-political crisis have left more than five million civilians, the vast majority
of them women and children, with a fragile grip on survival. The onset of winter will loosen that grip even further.
With the eyes of the world on Afghanistan and the neighbouring countries, we call attention to the following indicators of a broad and disastrous humanitarian crisis:
UN agencies and other aid organisations continue to operate camps for displaced people and food delivery with the help of hundreds of devoted Afghan staff who remain at work inside the country. But lack of international humanitarian access is hastening the deterioration of the situation. No additional food supplies can be delivered to Afghanistan at the moment and WFP estimates that food reserves in the country will be exhausted within two to three weeks.
We urge a world wounded by the horrific and deplorable terrorist attacks of 11 September to be mindful of the principles of international humanitarian law and to take all measures to protect the civilian populations, especially the millions of children and women.
We call on the entire international community - especially the countries in the region - to help prevent further tragedy by supporting humanitarian relief efforts, by pressing for safe international humanitarian access to all populations in need, by assuring the safety and security of international and national relief personnel, by supporting all measures that lessen the chance of a humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries, and by opening borders to those in need.
We particularly recognize the enormous burden already carried by Pakistan and Iran in hosting 3.5 million Afghans and join UNHCR in urging more international support for asylum states to ensure that their borders are open to all those who deserve protection and humanitarian assistance.
We thank those donors - governments, organizations and individuals - who continue to support humanitarian relief efforts in this region, and urge the international community to increase their support in the face of the growing humanitarian crisis.
Speeches and Press releases on Afghanistan and region