News

    South Asia Regional Stability Depends on Solutions for Afghan Refugees

    An Afghan refugee boy, Gul Zaman, who fled from Afghanistan with his family, peeps from his make-shift tent in the outskirts of Karachi, Pakistan, March 13, 2012.
    An Afghan refugee boy, Gul Zaman, who fled from Afghanistan with his family, peeps from his make-shift tent in the outskirts of Karachi, Pakistan, March 13, 2012.
    Lisa Schlein

    The United Nations says peace and stability will not be achieved in south Asia until durable solutions are found for millions of Afghan refugees. Delegates from more than 40 countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran are discussing the Afghan situation at a two-day conference in Geneva.

    Afghanistan has been producing refugees for more than 30 years, and the endless wars in that country continue to create new refugees and internally displaced people.

    The U.N. refugee agency, which is co-hosting a two-day conference in Geneva, calls this one of the most complex and protracted refugee situations in the world.

    The conference is seeking solutions for the three million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan and Iran, and 5.7 million Afghans who have returned to their country after many years in exile.

    U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres says displacement in Afghanistan and beyond its borders continues because of instability, drought and unfavorable conditions. He says the rate of return has declined during the past three years, from a high of more than one-quarter of a million refugees per year to about 70,000 last year.l

    “We are in an important period of transition in Afghanistan that is characterized by uncertainty," said Guterres. "Afghan refugees have shown that they “vote with their feet” when conditions for return are conducive, they have always wished to go home. Durable solutions for refugees and creating conditions for sustainable return and reintegration do not lie within the scope of humanitarian action alone. It requires political and economic developments.”  

    One year ago, the UNHCR along with the governments of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan began to map out a three-year strategy aimed at creating opportunities for sustainable solutions for Afghan refugees.

    Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi has served twice in Afghanistan as Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General, from July 1997 to October 1999 and immediately after 9/11, 2001 until January 2004.

    In his keynote address to the conference, he urged the international community to learn from the mistakes of the past and not to repeat them. Brahimi says time and again nations have pledged not to forget Afghanistan and to remain engaged, only to abandon the country, resulting in more conflict, more deaths, and more refugees.

    “Of course, interest for Afghanistan immediately jumped up sky-high after 9/11," said Brahimi. "9/11 is the direct consequence of the way in which the international community turned its back on Afghanistan after the Soviet Union withdrew from that country in 1989.  Are you going to turn your back again on Afghanistan?”  

    Brahimi says political negotiations must include all segments of Afghan society, including those Taliban who are ready to join the process. He says such negotiations should mobilize the support of all Afghanistan’s neighbors, including Pakistan and Iran.

    He says a political settlement would put an end to the fighting and create a better future for the millions of refugees and displaced people who, through no fault of their own, have been stripped of their homes and their rights.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.