LAHORE: A top UN humanitarian envoy says that there are ongoing needs both in Afghanistan and Pakistan that call for the continued attention and assistance from the international community.
UN Deputy Humanitarian Chief Kyung-wha Kang, who recently visited the vulnerable communities in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, told Voice of America that she was trying to focus global attention on the situation in both countries.
The envoy said the international community was very grateful for the generosity of the Pakistani people and government for hosting a huge population of Afghan refugees over the years.
“I think the international community is very grateful for the generosity of the Pakistani people and government and having hosted the enormous numbers of Afghan refugees over the years. There are still 1.6 million registered and over one, some say even two million, unregistered. And you (Pakistan) just renewed the agreement to let them continue to keep that status. So, that alone deserves a huge amount of gratitude. The funding aspect is a challenge,” she said when asked about complaints by Pakistani officials about lack of funding to deal with the Afghan refugee population in the country.
She said both national and provincial governments in Pakistan have provided very vital in kind assistance in terms of the food assistance to people displaced in military operations against terrorists.
“We talk to the officials constantly both at the national level and the provincial level. The government has provided very vital in kind assistance in terms of the food assistance. For example, just very recently 26,000 metric tons of food to support the WFP activities in support of the displaced people and we certainly hope that that will continue. That is not enough and therefore the international players or donors are here to make for that gap. We have heard of this campaign and we are of course concerned and preparing for the likely trigger of further displacement that that will cause and trying to make contingency plans for that,” she said in response to a question about more than a million Pakistanis displaced by the anti-terrorism operations in northwest of the country and the problems being faced by them. To a question about landslide incident in Afghanistan, the envoy said the landslide in Argo in the Badakhshan province was a terrible tragedy and caused the loss of hundreds of lives. “But it is not a single event, it is part of this flood that has affected the northern provinces. I think the displaced from the floods, the latest figures I… saw, is about 90,000. So it is part of a larger picture of natural disaster that every year visits the northern provinces. So, yes, there has to be emergency response to the affected people and I think between the local authorities and the international partners that response has been quite active. I understand there has been some confusion and complications but the initial response was immediate and displaced people immediately helped. But the longer term response has to be to see the single larger picture of the floods that affect so many in that region,” she said.
To a question about any worries of humanitarian community about its operations in the wake of international troop drawdown in Afghanistan, the envoy said, “You know, many are talking about the future of the country after the political transition with a new president to be inaugurated later this year, with the withdrawal of the international forces. But, however you look at it, the UN presence will continue to be needed and we are committed to staying further beyond 2015 for the longer term.”
To a question about humanitarian crisis facing Afghanistan, the envoy said, “It is a complex situation that combines both natural disasters and conflict related emergencies and it is a protracted situation. We expect the situation to either to remain the same or further deteriorate.”
To a question about increase in attacks on foreigners in Afghanistan, the envoy said, “The insecurity is of course of a deep concern. We would like to provide a safe environment, the security set up that enables our colleagues to work and that is a very careful judgment and decision. But we are there.”
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