STATEMENT By Munira Faizzad
Third Secretary of the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations
At the Third Committee of the 73rd Session of the General Assembly
Agenda Item 66: Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions
(Check Against Delivery)
At the outset, I’d like to thank the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for his comprehensive report and insightful presentation.
Taking this opportunity, my delegation extends its gratitude to those countries that have hosted Afghan refugees in the recent decades.
Armed conflict, persecution, and natural disasters severely affect our livelihood. As a result of these global tragedies, there are more than 25 million refugees and 40 million IDPs. Of these refugees, 6 million of them are Afghans. Most of them are our youth, having the capacity to play a constructive role in developing their country.
Promoting the wellbeing of refugees, returnees, and IDPs is a national commitment of my government. To this end, we’ve led a two-fold strategy to adequately secure and protect the rights of refugees, returnees, and IDPs. Through this agenda, we are collaborating with domestic entities and our international partners to provide sustainable solutions to this crisis.
Our core effort to advance the welfare of all our people is through the Afghanistan National Action Plan. Through this framework, we’ve adopted the Action Plan for Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons, a series of programs dedicated to protecting the needs of these groups. We’ve also accelerated our efforts to provide livelihood opportunities to returnees. In the last 3 years, we’ve increased the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations’ budget by 70% percent, enabling us to launch 46 developmental programs to create positive living conditions for returnees. These programs include access to clean water, electricity, education, and the pavements of streets. We’re also providing returnees with land and shelter as a means to expedite their reintegration into our society. We are happy to report that more than 9 million Afghan refugees have returned home in the last 17 years.
Furthermore, we are working with regional partners and international organizations to collectively respond to the plight of Afghan refugees. Through the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSSAR) framework, we are providing assistance to refugees. Additionally, we’ve recently established the High Council on Refugee Affairs to increase coordination between national and international institutions to facilitate the voluntary return of refugees. Also, to strengthen our efforts in this endeavor, earlier this year, we’ve officially announced our decision to join and support the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF). We look forward to working with UNHCR and our partners to develop a roadmap to realize our shared objectives.
Despite our achievements, Afghans remain the second largest refugee population in the world. Addressing the root causes of conflict is essential to alleviating the suffering of refugees and IDPs. The imposed protracted conflict has continued to threaten our livelihood and cause our population to seek refuge abroad. Given the relationship between conflict and the plight of refugees and IDPs, my government has prioritized its efforts to bring lasting peace to Afghanistan. Towards this end, earlier this year, we’ve presented an even more flexible approach to peace, offering talks with the reconcilable elements of the armed opposition without preconditions. While our efforts led to the first-ever 3-day ceasefire with the Taliban, we have yet to witness a clear readiness by the Taliban to engage in lasting peace. However, our national commitment to bettering the lives of our people by bringing stability motivates us to strive for peace.
The plight of refugees and IDPs is a global phenomenon. While our individual efforts have significantly impacted local communities, it is only through our joint efforts that we could generate greater results. Noting that our efforts in this noble endeavor greatly benefit the entire world, Afghanistan welcomes all measures to end this humanitarian crisis.
I thank you.