Jan Egeland (born 12 September 1957) is a Norwegian diplomat, political scientist, humanitarian leader and former Labour Party politician who has been Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council since 2013. He served as State Secretary in the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1990 to 1997 and as United Nations Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator from 2003 to 2006. Over the course of his career, Egeland has also served as Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch, Director of Human Rights Watch Europe, director of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, Secretary General of the Norwegian Red Cross and Chair of Amnesty International Norway. He also holds a post as Professor II at the University of Stavanger.
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- I was myself recently also in Afghanistan, and I sat down with the mothers in these displacement camps around Kabul. And I asked them, “What about the future? What do you think of the future?” And they told me very clearly, “We believe we will starve and freeze to death this harsh winter, unless there is an enormous aid operation coming through and unless there is a public sector again that is able to provide services.” It is as acute as that. Forty million civilians were left behind when the NATO countries went for the door in August.
- Interviewed in Hell on Earth”: Millions of Afghans Face Starvation as U.S. & West Freeze Billions in Gov’t Funds, Democracy Now!, (16 November 2021)
- Money should not go to the military political group called the Taliban that took power by force. The money should go to the people, and it is possible. So, number one, there has to be trust funds, as we call it, that is held by U.N. agencies, that funnel money directly to the hospitals, that you just showed, where people are dying at the moment. It can go straight to the teachers that were on the payroll of the World Bank previously, can go straight to them. So, the money can go through us, international organizations, straight to the people.
Secondly, unfreeze those funds that will enable banks to function again. At the moment, we cannot even buy relief items in Afghanistan. We have to ship them over, take them over from Pakistan and Iran, which means that employment is dying in Afghanistan.
And thirdly, donors, come down from the fence. See that we are there. We are reliable channels for funding. The money will go to the people. Transmit funding, not just come with pledges. This will not become Switzerland in a long time. You have to share the risk with us to save lives this winter.