Aug 14, 2021 - World

UN refugee agency warns of rising humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan

Thousands of families flee from Talibanâs offensive and come to Kabul, Afghanistan on August 10, 2021.

Thousands of families have fled from Taliban offensives and sought refuge elsewhere. Photo: Sayed Khodaiberdi Sadat/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The United Nations refugee agency is warning of a spiraling humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan as the Taliban nears recapturing the state.

Driving the news: "The United Nations Assistance Mission has warned that without a significant de-escalation in violence, Afghanistan is on course to witness the highest ever number of documented civilian casualties in a single year since the U.N.’s records began," according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

  • The UNHCR said women and girls may experience the heaviest toll of the violence, as they make up approximately 80% of nearly 250,000 Afghans forced to flee since the end of May.
  • "This is a staggering statistic," spokesperson Shabia Mantoo told journalists at the United Nations in Geneva. "We need to raise the alarm about the disproportionate toll they are paying for what is happening on the ground."
  • Nearly 400,000 Afghans left their homes since the beginning of the year, per the agency.

What they're saying: "UNHCR is calling on countries neighboring Afghanistan to keep their borders open in light of the intensifying crisis in Afghanistan," the agency wrote.

  • "An inability to seek safety may risk innumerable civilian lives."

State of play: The Taliban have captured more than half of Afghanistan's provincial capitals over the last week as the insurgents' lightning offensive shows no signs of slowing.

  • Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, the second-largest province in the country, fell to the Taliban on Saturday.
  • The Biden administration is preparing for the fall of Kabul and a retreat from any U.S. diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, Axios' Jonathan Swan and Glen Johnson report.

Go deeper: Afghans seek escape from Taliban siege as U.S. scrambles to secure refuge

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