'Far greater humanitarian crisis' looms in Afghanistan: UNHCR

Far greater humanitarian crisis looms in Afghanistan: UNHCR

GENEVA: As evacuations from Kabul wind down in coming days, "a larger crisis is just beginning" in Afghanistan and for its 39 million people, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said on Monday, appealing for support.

Filippo Grandi, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, whose agency said last Friday that up to 500,000 Afghans could flee by year-end, reiterated a call for borders to remain open and for more countries to share "this humanitarian responsibility" with Iran and Pakistan which already host 2.2 million Afghans, Reuters reported.

"The airlifts out of Kabul will end in a matter of days, and the tragedy that has unfolded will no longer be as visible. But it will still be a daily reality for millions of Afghans. We must not turn away. A far greater humanitarian crisis is just beginning," Grandi said in a statement.

Mohammed Jan Sultani had clutched his national Taekwondo championship certificates as he waded through the multitudes pushing to get into Kabul airport late last week.

The 25-year-old athlete wasn't on any evacuation lists. Yet he had hoped his achievements would make him and his young family special enough to be let into the gate and onto one of the flights rescuing foreigners and Afghans fleeing

the Taliban.

As he forged ahead, an Islamic State suicide bomber detonated two dozen pounds of explosives in the crowd just before nightfall Thursday, killing 169 Afghans, including Sultani, and 13 US service members.

His wife and two children, 4-year-old Zahid and 2-year-old Zahra, survived; he had told them to stay back a bit as he advanced toward the gate.

Three days later, Zahid remains in shock. He cries, but doesn't speak.

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