Taliban’s refugee minister Haqqani tells Al Jazeera urgent actions are needed to help displaced Afghans before winter.
Kabul, Afghanistan – A Taliban leader has urged action and help from the international community, including donor agencies, to help displaced Afghans ahead of the approaching winter.
In recent days, aid groups have warned Afghanistan faces an “impending humanitarian crisis” if aid and resources are not delivered to the country.
Poverty could soar to 97 percent by the middle of next year, according to the United Nations’ World Food Programme, as famine and drought forces thousands to move to the cities in search of refuge.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, the Taliban’s minister for refugees, Khalil-ur-Rahman Haqqani, said while thousands of people were internally displaced, there was “now peace in Afghanistan and everyone could return home”.
“An estimated 20,000 people are in Kabul from Panjshir valley,” Haqqani told Al Jazeera.
“The priority will be Kabul as it is the most populated city and holds the highest number of refugees.”
Haqqani added that people will be given assistance to return and help to “rebuild their homes” if they have been damaged.
But any interactions with Haqqani are likely to be tricky as the US government has designated him a “global terrorist”. The United States has placed a $5m bounty and he also has been sanctioned by the UN, with charges including associating with al-Qaeda.
The group says the sanctions should have been removed following the deal signed by the US in Qatar last year.
He said the next phase of the plan was to make “special towns in each province” from where people were displaced and for them to be designed to have “facilities as well as jobs in development, services, construction and agriculture for the local community”.
“The reason is to make sure there is a one-window solution for those wanting to help, centralise needs from all over the country, reduce waste, remove corruption and ensure all help reaches those who deserve it the most,” he added.
Strapped for cash
Haqqani admitted that there was a “cash-flow problem but God willing, we will slowly overcome this problem as well”.
“The most important thing is the peace in Afghanistan doesn’t warrant any refugees or displaced people,” he added.
On Friday, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi called on countries to engage with the Taliban or risk a “humanitarian crisis”.
Speaking in Islamabad, the capital of neighbouring Pakistan, Grandi said the international community should not only provide aid to the poverty-stricken nation, but also accept Afghan refugees.
On Wednesday, Pakistan’s national security adviser Moeed Yusuf also called on the international community to “engage” with the Taliban or risk a return to instability in Afghanistan.
Prior to the Taliban takeover, one-third of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) was drawn from foreign funding.
The Taliban took over Kabul last month after swiftly capturing more than a dozen provincial capitals in under two weeks.
Following the fall of Kabul, the US and other nations, including NATO allies, evacuated thousands of citizens and eligible Afghan nationals.
No government has yet recognised the interim Taliban government.