Afghanistan: Humanitarian chief highlights plight of displaced people

8 May, 2012
8 May 2012, Afghanistan: Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos addresses the press in Kabul. Credit: UNAMA
8 May 2012, Afghanistan: Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos addresses the press in Kabul. Credit: UNAMA

During talks in Kabul, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, highlighted the continuing humanitarian needs of Afghans affected by conflict and natural disasters.   

Speaking today at a joint news conference with Wais Ahmad Barmak, Afghanistan’s Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, USG Amos noted that 5 million Afghan refugees live outside the country and a significant number of people (some half a million) are still internally displaced. She urged the Government and the international community to “remember those people, even as the transition period and the move to secure development take place.”
 
“As we work to ensure that the development priorities of the Government are supported by the various parts of the UN system and also by the wider international community, we must make sure that we don’t forget the ongoing humanitarian needs of those in Afghanistan,” said Ms. Amos.
 
The visit also aims to strengthen relations with the Government in support of its efforts to build capacity so that it can respond to natural disasters as effectively and efficiently as possible. 
 
As part of that effort, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which Ms. Amos oversees, is sharing data and information with the Government, and identifying the areas that are most vulnerable to natural disasters.
 
While in Afghanistan, Ms. Amos will travel to the north of the country to meet internally displaced people and communities affected by natural disasters.
 
She said the third theme of her visit was to build the longer-term capacity of communities to increase their resilience. To save lives in the aftermath of a disaster, “we require local people to know what to do,” Ms. Amos said. She added that improving disaster response goes hand in hand with building capacity.
 
Earlier in the day, Ms. Amos met with Vice President Mohammad Karim Khalili and the Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development Barmak for talks focusing on coordination between the UN and the Government to improve levels of preparation and disaster response.
 
“In all four seasons in different parts of Afghanistan, we face some disasters,” Minister Khalili said. He added that the Government is preparing a national strategy to coordinate the response to disasters. 
 
The humanitarian community has launched the 2012 consolidated appeal for Afghanistan. Of the US$437 million requested, $106 million, or more than 24 per cent, has been funded so far. 
 
Reporting by UN Kabul