As the Afghan winter sets in, the United Nations Refugee Agency is appealing for more support amid acute and increasing humanitarian needs for the 3.5 million people displaced by regional conflict. Join Washington Post Live on Friday, Jan. 7 at 11:00 a.m. ET for a conversation with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, about the escalating needs of refugees in Afghanistan.


“How to ensure that Afghanistan is a viable country able to support its people I think will only be achievable through dialogue between the international community and the Taliban. But dialogue won’t be easy.” (Washington Post Live)
“At the moment, it is very much on the humanitarian side, and on that front…. engagement has been relatively positive, constructive. Humanitarian organizations… have more access to more areas of Afghanistan now than they have had for years.” (Washington Post Live)
“This burden sharing between the countries that are near the crisis and the richer countries further is minimal. I think that all countries hosting large numbers of refugees deserve more burden sharing in that sense.” (Washington Post Live)
“After the 15th of August, the situation has deteriorated further in so many different ways. More than half of the population on the brink of famine… 80 percent of the health system paralyzed and unable to work.” (Washington Post Live)
“If the social and economic situation of the country is not tackled quickly, I foresee much bigger movements once the winter season ends… Humanitarian assistance… can keep the country going for a while… but it’s not going to be enough.” (Washington Post Live)

Filippo Grandi

Provided by UNHCR.

Some 90 per cent of UNHCR staff work in the field, often in difficult and dangerous duty stations. The organization's needs-based budget for 2021 is US$8.7 billion and another US$ 455 million in additional needs for its COVID19 related activities.

Before being elected High Commissioner, Grandi had been engaged in international cooperation for over 30 years, focusing on refugee and humanitarian work. He served as Commissioner-General of the UN Agency for Palestine refugees, UNRWA, from 2010 to 2014, after having been the organization’s Deputy Commissioner-General since 2005. Prior to that, Grandi served as Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Afghanistan, following a long career first with NGOs and later with UNHCR in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and at the organization’s Geneva headquarters.

Grandi was born in Milan in 1957. He holds a degree in modern history from the State University in Milan, a BA in Philosophy from the Gregorian University in Rome, as well as an honorary doctorate from the University of Coventry.

Filippo Grandi became the 11th United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on 1 January 2016. He was elected by the UN General Assembly to serve a five-year term, until 31 December 2020. In November 2020 the General Assembly extended the High Commissioner’s mandate until 30 June 2023.

As High Commissioner, he heads one of the world’s largest humanitarian organizations. UNHCR has twice won the Nobel Peace Prize. Its 17,000-strong workforce spans 130 countries providing protection and assistance to nearly 80 million refugees, returnees, internally displaced people and stateless persons.