World must step in to help Afghans like UAE, Pakistan have: Envoy

"Afghan people must be recognised as human beings who need support and help."


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Thu 16 Dec 2021, 5:20 PM

The international community must step in urgently to avert a worst-ever humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, much in line with the relief works done by the UAE and Pakistan, a top envoy said in Abu Dhabi.

Pakistan Ambassador to the UAE Afzaal Mahmood pointed out that with the winter season setting in Afghanistan, the country is looking at one of the worst humanitarian crises. He noted that a united effort is the need of the hour to save crucial lives in Afghanistan.

“Both the UAE and Pakistan have been helpful to the international community when people were trying to exit from Afghanistan after August 15 (after the Taliban seized control)," he said. "Many had their diplomats, troops, nationals, who wanted to leave Afghanistan. The UAE facilitated temporary stay of people as they flew back to their country."

The same was the case in Pakistan, he noted.

"(It) was a more convenient place for transit because Kabul airport had limited facilities and not many flights could land at the same time. So, many foreigners travelled to Pakistan by road on buses and trucks to fly out to their countries,” Mahmood said in an interview with Khaleej Times.

The ambassador said Pakistan is now home to 4 million Afghan refugees.

“We are next-door neighbours. When the crisis rises to the level that people have to care for their lives and move to a place with a better situation, the first option for them is Pakistan. No other country has as large a number of refugees as Pakistan has on its soil," he said.

"Refugees are not living in a camp but in cities, towns and villages. They are living like our own nationals. They are doing work of their own choice and getting wages, students are in school and patients are in hospital. Pakistan offered over 6,000 fully funded scholarships to Afghan nationals.”

In the winter season, he said people in Afghanistan are in urgent need of food, medical assistance and shelter.

“The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is getting worse. Afghans need assistance like food, medical treatment and facilities, shelter as there are areas where it snows and temperature dips below zero degrees.”

The ambassador stressed that Pakistan, by hosting the Extraordinary Session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers, is trying to steer the world’s attention to Afghanistan.

“We are hopeful that OIC member countries will have a sympathetic view of the situation. We are expecting some pledges of support from the participating countries," he said.

The OIC summit takes place in Islamabad on December 19.

“About 60 per cent of the population of Afghanistan, according to the UN, are at the hunger level. So, that necessitates the current international community to address the humanitarian issue.”


Asked about the lack of global recognition for the Taliban government, the ambassador said: “Recognising Taliban government and Afghan people are two different things. Afghan people must be recognised as human beings who need support and help. If the Taliban government for any reason is not recognised by the international community, that doesn’t mean that Afghan people don’t deserve to be looked after by the international community.”

Pakistan is anticipating an influx of more refugees if there is lack of will from the global community.

“They are human beings, our neighbours, and if, unfortunately, things go wrong, we would probably have a huge challenge of accepting yet another large number of people. We don’t want to have a crisis situation on our borders. But we cannot afford to wait till the time they start escaping from their country in search of basic needs,” Mahmood added.

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