Sunday, September 26, 2021

UK will pay to shelter refugees in countries neighbouring Afghanistan

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Britain said on Friday that it would release 30 million pounds ($41 million) of aid to support nations neighbouring Afghanistan dealing with refugees fleeing the country since the Taliban took control.

The British government said 10 million pounds would immediately be made available to the UN refugee agency UNHCR and other humanitarian groups to help with shelters and sanitation facilities at the borders.

The remainder will go to nations that experienced a significant number of refugees to provide essential services and supplies, it said.

“It is vital that we help those fleeing Afghanistan and do not allow the crisis there to undermine regional stability,” British foreign minister Dominic Raab said.

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The UNHCR has said up to half a million Afghans could flee their homeland by the end of the year.

Many fleeing the country are believed to be heading to Pakistan, while another of Afghanistan’s neighbours Tajikistan has pledged to accept 100,000 refugees.

Britain itself has said it would take some 20,000 Afghan refugees with 5,000 expected to arrive in the first year.

Earlier this month, Britain announced it would double its humanitarian and development aid to Afghanistan to 286 million pounds this year, and Raab said on a visit to Qatar on Thursday that there was a need to engage with the Taliban.

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However, Britain has no immediate plans to recognise their government.

Raab was speaking during a joint press conference with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in Doha, where he visited housing for refugees evacuated from Afghanistan after the Taliban swept to power last month.

Sheikh Mohammed said Qatar was talking with the Taliban and working with Turkey for potential technical support to restart operations at Kabul airport.

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“We are engaging with them (Taliban), engaging also with Turkey if they can provide any technical assistance on that front.

Hopefully in the next few days there will be some good news,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

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“There is no clear indication when (the airport) is going to be fully operational yet…We remain hopeful that we will be able to operate it as soon as possible,” he added.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara that under current conditions Kabul airport could handle military aircraft for evacuation flights but that security and other conditions would need to be met for commercial flights.

Reuters/NAN

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