KEYNOTE SPEECH BY THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF AFGHANISTAN H.E. DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH AT THE GENEVA CONFERENCE ON AFGHANISTAN “SIDE EVENT- PEOPLE ON THE MOVE”

Keynote Speech by

The Chief Executive of The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

H.E. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah 

At the Geneva Conference On Afghanistan 

“Side Event- People on the move”

 

Palais De Nations- Council Chamber, Geneva

27 November, 2018

 

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

 

Excellencies,

Honorable guests from the Islamic Republic of Iran and I.R. of Pakistan,

Distinguished representatives of the UNHCR, the European Union, IOM and other agencies,

 

Ladies and Gentlemen

 

On behalf of the National Unity Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, I would like to thank all of you for attending today’s side-event focused on the critical issue of “people on the move”.  My gratitude to our friend, High Commissioner Filippo Grandi, for moderating today’s talk, and to the distinguished experts who have agreed to be part of the panel and share their views with us.

 

I also hope our deliberations today contribute and lead to practical and sustainable solutions for the millions of Afghans who are displaced within their country, and those who continue to live as refugees and migrants in other countries.

 

We aim to discuss ways to support Afghan refugees, returnees, internally displaced persons, and migrants, wherever they may be, through a whole-of-community approach, and to recommit ourselves to seeking durable solutions for them, and finding ways to improve their living conditions, whether in Afghanistan or in host or transit countries.

 

To be able to attain these goals and lower the weight of the collective burden, we need a whole-of-stakeholders approach that keeps us all engaged, coordinated and seeking durable solutions that are implementable.

I take this opportunity to thank the governments and peoples of the Islamic Republics of Iran and Pakistan for generously hosting Afghan refugees over the years, and for their cooperation at different intervals to discuss and seek durable solutions.

 

While nearly six million Afghans have returned to our country since 2002, we still have more than three million living as refugees in our neighborhood and beyond. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans are returning each year from the Islamic Republics of Iran and Pakistan and other countries. We very much appreciate the assistances and facilitation extended by the UNHCR, IOM and others, in close cooperation with the Afghan Government, to deal with the flow of returnees, knowing that it is not an easy task, and much work remains to be done to create an environment that is conducive to return in safety and dignity, allowing us to promote sustainable reintegration.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Without question, the refugee and migrant situation is one of the most pressing challenges facing the global community today. In the case of Afghanistan, we can point to the achievements made in recent years with the hard work of our people and the generous contributions made by the donor community to lay the foundation for a post-conflict country, invest in political stability and social and economic development. However, we must acknowledge that we are still facing serious security challenges and more needs to be done to further improve the overall situation, allowing more Afghans to feel secure and to return to their homeland.

 

Aiming for a just, inclusive and durable peace that ensures stability and protects the gains of the last 17 years in Afghanistan is of paramount concern, but this can only be achieved through our collective efforts, and with the continuing support of the international community.

 

Within this context, and taking decisive action, the National Unity Government has established an inter-ministerial High Commission for Refugees and Migrants, which formulates comprehensive responses to migration and displacement related issues, drawing on the expertise of specialized UN agencies and other partners. Representing the highest national decision-making body for interventions toward the return and sustainable reintegration of Afghans, the High Commission and the Council of Minister’s Sub-Committee have already provided valuable advice and guidance on the way forward. The Displacement and Returnee Executive Committee, which I myself have led since it was established in 2016, provides an important mechanism to coordinate the ongoing response to the needs of displaced and returnee populations, focusing efforts toward our shared goal of ensuring refugees and internally displaced persons are able to find safety and successfully reintegrate into the social and economic fabric of Afghanistan.

 

In September, a Presidential Decree on the identification and allocation of suitable land to returnees and IDPs was enacted.

 

A number of large-scale, multi-partner reintegration programmes are being implemented around the country in line with the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework, which specifically includes internally displaced and returnee populations.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

While there are continuing humanitarian needs in Afghanistan as a result of increasing internal displacement due to the ongoing conflict and natural disasters, the need for lasting, development-oriented, practical solutions remain high on the agenda of the Government and the international community. Here, allow me to take a moment to express appreciation for the work of all our international partners who have supported us on this journey for the past four decades. Organizations such as UNHCR, IOM, UNICEF, the World Bank, the European Union, and USAID have done so much to promote the development of our country and to help us work toward peace and stability, and we are grateful that they are with us for today’s event and continue to stand beside us as we move forward.

 

Afghanistan has officially announced its support for the implementation the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, which constitutes part of the Global Compact on Refugees, and is one of only two countries of origin, and the only country in Asia to make this pledge. This comes in addition to the Government’s commitment to the implementation of the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees, which lays the foundation for a comprehensive solutions and protection framework for addressing the needs of Afghan refugees within the scope of the humanitarian-development nexus.

 

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Recognizing the urgency of addressing the issue of people on the move and the protracted needs of displaced populations inside Afghanistan and across our borders, it is important that we consider how we can leverage the humanitarian-development nexus to move forward toward peace and stability in Afghanistan and to address the root causes of displacement. Acknowledging that our sustained efforts to create conditions conducive for the voluntary, gradual and safe return and reintegration of internally displaced persons and returning refugees is a fundamental element of peace and stability, we must also consider how we can enhance migration management systems while maintaining protection space for refugees and others on the move.

In addition to developing sustainable return and reintegration programmes, and fully embedding the needs of returnees and internally displaced persons into our National Priority Programmes, collectively we need to accelerate implementation of our efforts to ensure that people on the move are allocated land upon return to their communities. Greater coordination and joint efforts to identify, map, prioritize and respond to the needs of our people is crucial, especially at a time like this when international aid is increasingly stretched between multiple competing crises across the world.

 

I sincerely believe that the way forward lies not only in expanding international cooperation and responsibility sharing, but also in strengthening partnerships that foster conditions inside Afghanistan that will bring about longer-term solutions through job creation, community development and empowerment, investment in public infrastructure, and expansion of public services, which together will create a society that can prosper and that is ready to receive our Afghan brothers and sisters back home.

 

I also would like to take this opportunity to thank all the countries and partners pledged, and contributed generously to the humanitarian appeal for Afghanistan, and hopefully through their continued commitment we would be able to bridge the existing gap.

 

In conclusion, I would like to say that I have always believed that we cannot resolve the challenges ahead unless we solve them together – unless we understand that while we may have different stories to tell, we all hold common hopes and dreams for Afghanistan. With this in mind, if we all work together – all of us here today – we can achieve great success in improving the lives of Afghans on the move and facilitating their voluntary, gradual and dignified return and sustainable reintegration in Afghanistan.

Thank you.