On this day, the United States stands with Afghan refugees, the displaced, those who have returned and with those who remain outside of their country. Since 2002, more than 6.5 million Afghan refugees have come home, most with the assistance of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in the largest voluntary repatriation in UNHCR history. The United States is its biggest donor, both globally and in Afghanistan. Returnees constitute some 20 percent of this country’s population.
As this country’s friend and enduring partner, we reaffirm our commitment to Afghan returnees and those whom fear or circumstance lead to be outside the country. We support their sustainable reintegration as the right thing to do and toward building opportunity, prosperity, and peace here and throughout the region.
On June 4, Secretary of State Blinken announced more than $266 million in new humanitarian assistance for this country. It includes nearly $109 million from the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration of which more than $80 million is to support UNHCR at a perilous time for many of this country’s citizens. We are proud of that.
It must also be stated that, frankly, this is not enough. Afghanistan and Afghans need security and peace – no more refugees. These are principal objectives of the United States.
America will continue strongly to support this country and its institutions, especially the Afghan Defense and Security Forces whose coherence, effectiveness, and commitment under united Afghan leadership remain bedrocks of security – and of hope that Afghans have for a better future. My embassy intends to stay here, and we intend to continue carrying out robust programs of assistance, support to, and engagement with the people of Afghanistan on behalf of peace, security, and prosperity.
We have supported and will continue to support the United Nations Secretary General’s call for a humanitarian cease-fire and must ask questions about the humanity of those who reject it.
The peace process has been sluggish and disappointing. We can and do recognize that the reasons for this are many, but we should not give up on the proposition that compromise for peace is both necessary and possible. It is this country’s hope for avoiding more war, more deprivation and tragedy, and more refugees.
On World Refugee Day, I call for the united leaders of Afghanistan, together with this country’s friends and partners, key regional players, and – let’s be ambitious – the Taliban to find the wisdom, courage, and humility to forge an end to war and a peace that serves the interests of all Afghans, preserves the gains of the last 20 years, and enables this country and the region to forge a brighter future.