London: The UK government said on Friday that it will be releasing up to 30 million pounds of life-saving aid to Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries to help those who choose to leave the strife-torn country, as part of the efforts to support regional stability.

The announcement came as UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab met his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, and other senior leaders on the Pakistan leg of his regional tour of South Asia to discuss the Afghan crisis following the Taliban takeover.

The visit to Pakistan, the first for Raab as Foreign Secretary, is part of efforts to secure safe passage for Britons and others trying to leave Afghanistan.

“We will be supporting those countries who face greatest demands from those who may be displaced in the weeks ahead, said Raab, addressing a joint press conference in Islamabad.

Pakistan, which shares a border with Afghanistan, is seen as a key player in the crisis and hosts about 3 million Afghan refugees.

It is vital that we help those fleeing Afghanistan and do not allow the crisis there to undermine regional stability, Raab said in a pre-visit statement.

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That’s why these life-saving supplies are so important. They will provide Afghans who have left everything behind with an essential kit offering shelter and basic sanitation as they seek to pick up the pieces of their lives.

“This aid demonstrates the UK’s commitment to shoulder our humanitarian responsibility and support those countries who will face the greatest demands for those displaced, he said.

The UK says 10 million pounds of its aid will be made available immediately to humanitarian partners, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to enable essential supplies such as shelters to be despatched to the Afghan borders as well as setting up sanitation and hygiene facilities.

A further 20 million pounds will be allocated to countries that experience a significant increase in refugees to support reception and registration facilities and provide essential services and supplies.

This is the first tranche of the additional funding, announced by the Prime Minister in response to the crisis when he doubled the UK’s aid contribution to Afghanistan to 286 million pounds this year.

The UNHCR estimates a worst-case scenario of over 500,000 refugees fleeing the country to Pakistan, Tajikistan, Iran, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan in the coming months.

The security and political instability in Afghanistan has compounded an already dire humanitarian situation for the Afghan population, with significant increases in refugees moving across Afghanistan’s borders in recent weeks.



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