Under Agenda Item 60:
Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions
(Please check against delivery)
2 November 2016
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, I would like to thank the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for his report and comprehensive briefing this afternoon. My delegation strongly supports the UNHCR’s mandate and commends its dedicated staff for their endeavors towards addressing the global crisis of refugees.
Today, the world is facing increasing threats from terrorism and violent extremism. As a result, there is a humanitarian crisis of unforeseen proportions, where thousands of innocent victims of war, including men, women, and children, have become refugees. The global community must act now to ensure that this humanitarian crisis is mitigated. History will not judge us kindly if we fail to take action to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable amongst us.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Despite making significant progress across socioeconomic sectors, Afghanistan is still one of the leading countries of origin for refugees worldwide. Four decades of political instability has led to this humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, we have four categories of Afghan nationals who are associated with the refugee crisis today: (1) people who have recently arrived in Europe or trying to enter one of the European countries, both legally and illegally; (2) people who are currently intending to leave the country and are busy making arrangements for that; (3) people who have lived in neighboring countries like Pakistan and Iran for a long time; and (4) Afghan diaspora in fear of retribution for terrorist attacks around the world.
In the first category, terrorism, extremism, and protracted proxy wars are few causes for Afghans leaving their country in search of security. They have taken enormous risks to endure perilous journeys, often exploited by traffickers, in search of a stable life. Shutting the doors on their faces is not only against the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, but would also develop hatred, and ultimately fuel radicalization among disenfranchised youth.
The second category comprises of those who are currently planning to leave the country due to two main reasons; i) security concerns in Afghanistan due to the fight against terrorism and violent extremism, exacerbated by post transition changes, and ii) slow economy with endemic poverty of almost 36% and widespread unemployment of between 40-50% are additional causes of migration. The Government of Afghanistan is working to address these two issues to curb the flow of people who are planning to leave.
The third category includes those nationals of our country who live in Iran and Pakistan. I would like to extend my appreciation for the hospitality extended to them by these host countries. While we recognize their generosity with gratitude, we would like to call on their attention for the voluntary, gradual, and dignified repatriation of Afghan refugees.
The last category involves those Afghans who have settled in host countries, especially in the West, and form a part of the global Afghan diaspora. On the occasion of a terrorist attack, this group often faces backlash from right wing and Islamophobic factions. Discrimination based on religion and race is a global scourge and we should work together to negate negative stereotyping of Afghan communities, and to foster inter-faith and cross-cultural networks.
In conclusion, I would like to highlight the renewed commitment of the Government of Afghanistan in making voluntary repatriation and reintegration of its citizens among its highest national priorities. Principles of international solidarity, responsibility, burden sharing, and partnership should drive the efforts of voluntary resettlement and repatriation. Given the global threat of terrorism imposed upon us, we anticipate further investment from the international community in bringing peace, stability, and economic prosperity in Afghanistan so the influx of refugees to other countries in search of safety and economic prospects lessen. We welcome the support shown by the international community at the Brussels conference and UNHCR’s mandate in finding a comprehensive solution to the situation of refugees worldwide.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.