(MENAFN- The Peninsula) ayeni olusegun |
Doha: The Director of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, Indrika Ratwatte, has lauded Qatar's 'important' role in mediating and ensuring support for refugees impacted by the situation in Afghanistan.
Speaking to The Peninsula on the sidelines of a roundtable discussion titled“The Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan and the Rohingya Refugee Crisis”, hosted by the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies at Doha Institute, Ratwatte highlighted Doha's political dialogue, engaging all actors and keeping alive channels of communication with the Taliban government.
“Qatar's government has been an important regional player from the very outset. Regarding the Afghan situation, Qatar's government has also maintained close bilateral relations with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran (both countries hold the most Afghan refugees), looking at how best three areas can be supported. With the UNHCR, Qatar has been a core group of member states for the Afghan refugees,' he said
Qatar has called on the international community not to isolate Afghanistan, stressing the need to address its humanitarian crisis.
Qatar also facilitated one of the largest evacuation operations in modern history as it evacuated 80,000 people and supported them with shelter and healthcare during their stay in Doha.
“One is the political dialogue, keeping the political dialogue open and engaging with all actors. I think that's incredibly important. Second is the humanitarian support for the people of Afghanistan, but also for the Afghan refugees, millions of whom remain in Pakistan and Iran 40 years later. So that humanitarian support is essential for the host countries as well.
“This is an opportunity for Qatar to continue its leadership in this area, in political engagement, support to a political process of discussion, and advocacy around humanitarian issues,” Ratwatte said
The director added that Qatar's progressive position as an Islamic state gives it access to mediate and bring the Afghans to the table, citing the critical transition process in the country.
Last year was challenging for women's rights in Afghanistan. In December 2022, the Taliban announced a ban on women working in non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The Taliban also banned women from universities in Afghanistan, following earlier bans on women from parks, gyms and public baths in Kabul.
“I think Qatar can, in that sense, at this point of time, where Afghanistan is going through this critical transition with many challenges, really also support that dialogue together with the de facto authorities, to increase the space for humanitarian action, and address issues related to the space for girls and women in society.
These are essential points, and there are best practices also in the Islamic Republics that can be looked at, promoted and advocated for to enable a space in Afghanistan that finally gives a chance for all Afghans to have the space, peace, and prosperity they deserve,” Ratwatte added.