Red Cross workers in Europe are preparing for more than 500,000 refugees to flee Afghanistan, fearing that a harsh winter will exacerbate the country’s woes.
The charity said Afghanistan faces an “alarming humanitarian emergency” as the Taliban rule and a dire economic scenario pushes people to leave.
He said the worst-case scenario used by aid workers was that 515,000 people could leave Afghanistan before the end of the year.
Aid workers expect busy migration routes to Europe as asylum seekers seek refuge.
“Many Afghans could cross international borders in the coming months,” said Xavier Castellanos, under-secretary general of the Red Cross.
“Winter is approaching and we know it can be harsh… we need to be prepared to provide them with protection and humanitarian assistance.
He said drought, food shortages, health concerns, the coronavirus pandemic and “restrictive social standards” could force people to leave.
Although they present a moderate image, the Taliban have decided to restrict women and bring back harsh punishments such as amputation since their return to power.
Western countries have made women’s rights a condition of cooperation with the Taliban, whose regime is not internationally recognized.
The European Union plans to help Afghanistan’s neighbors absorb refugees in order to avoid a migration crisis in Europe.
While some Afghans were evacuated from Kabul during the NATO airlift, others who worked for Western forces were left behind.
Hundreds of Afghans have arrived in Greece this year, more than from any other country.
Others have arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina where aid workers are managing the flow of arrivals.
The Red Cross said it needs more than 24 million Swiss francs ($ 25.9 million) to provide humanitarian aid for at least next year.
He said the priority was to provide aid to Afghanistan’s neighbors, including Pakistan, Iran and Tajikistan.
“Afghanistan faces an alarming humanitarian emergency and a worsening economic crisis, both likely to be further exacerbated by the approach of the winter season,” the charity said.
“Access to banking services has been severely limited, with crippled cash flow.
“A rapid deterioration of humanitarian conditions in Afghanistan could have catastrophic consequences for vulnerable Afghans and could lead to further internal and cross-border displacement. “
Updated: September 29, 2021, 13:51