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Conflict, natural disasters displace half a million Afghans annually: UNFPA

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By Akhtar M. Nikzad-KABUL: The United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA) released a report on the State of World Population in 2015 and said that totally 7.4 million people in Afghanistan need humanitarian assistance and 3.4 million of them requiring critical lifesaving interventions.

The report entitled “Shelter from the Storm” focused over casualties and damages of the years of conflicts and natural disasters in the world and Afghan state population.

Addressing a press conference on Saturday, UNFPA Deputy Representative, Wilfred Ochan, said that every year over half a million people is displaced as a result of the conflict and nature disasters in Afghanistan.

He said that out of total, 240,000 are women and girls of whom 115,000 (about 23 percent of total population) are in reproductive age requiring essential health services, adding that estimated 5,750 of this displaced population are expected to be pregnant and need maternal healthcare services.

He pointed out that about one million people have been displaced since 2001 and over 76 percent of Afghans have been displaced by conflict, natural disasters and man-made disasters at some point during their life time.

Speaking about the places hit by the natural disasters, he said that natural disasters affected large number of people in Nangarhar and Faryab provinces and destroyed and damaged over 20,000 houses in 2014 alone.

According to him, the conflict in Kunduz province has displaced over 13,000 families between September and October with nearly 900 casualties, of which 122 were women.

He stressed that 64 percent of female respondents in a survey of IDPs in Afghanistan experienced domestic violence during displacement. He went on to say that pulling young girls from schools and forcing them into marriages also has been a harmful challenge for women in Afghanistan.

“In Afghanistan, women and girls were found to be twice vulnerable than men during emergencies. The vulnerability of women and girls during emergencies are exacerbated by existing social inequities and wider societal limitations. Because of destruction of facilities, insecurity for movement, lack of female health workers or male escort in the cases of Afghanistan, women in displacement often find themselves with limited access to reproductive health and GBV prevention and response services,” he mentioned.

Minister of Economy, Abdul Sattar Murad, termed the state of population report findings about the IDPs a major concern for the government and said that the government is determined to take decisions and resolve the current displacement crisis.

He said that the report would enable the donors and international community to provide humanitarian aid to needy Afghan people. The minister also asked the international donors to arrange their cooperation based on the report.

According to UNFPA report, over half a million people are affected by natural disasters and more than 100,000 were internally displaced by January 2014. The report highlighted that 100 million people need humanitarian assistance around the world and out of 26 million people are women and girls.

According to the report, the number of deaths is one indicator for intensity or magnitude of a conflict. Between 1989 and 2008, there were an estimated total 3,362,000 direct conflict deaths, or an average of 168,100 deaths per year. Seventy-four percent of direct conflict deaths between 1989 and 2008 occurred in Central Africa, East Africa, the Middle East and North Africa and South Asia.

Since 2008, increasing conflict in the Middle East raised the total level of direct conflict deaths to more than 200,000 per year. In 2012, two out of five people worldwide who in battle were in Syria.

In 2014, the total number of refugees and internally displaced people worldwide reached 59.5 million, the highest number since the Second World War. The number of internally displaced people doubled from 2010 to 2015.