An already dire situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating by the day and has evolved rapidly over past months into a crisis of unprecedented scale with 24.4 million people – more than half of the population of 41.7 million – in need of humanitarian assistance. In 2022, the United Nations (UN) is requesting USD 4.44 billion in this year’s Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) from governments and donors to respond to the escalating needs of the country.
Included in this plan is an unprecedented level of support for Afghanistan’s healthcare system, a nationwide response to severe food insecurity as almost 23 million people are struggling with acute hunger, urgent needs for protection of vulnerable Afghans in a country where nearly half of the population is under 15 years and as increasing risks and pressures are placed on women in their public and private spheres.
"The scale of the distress and desperation that we see on the ground here in Afghanistan is hard to comprehend and is getting worse as we speak," says Jared Rowell, Country Director of DRC in Afghanistan:
"Humanitarian needs are pervasive among people across the country – in cities, villages and remote areas – placing severe constraints on their innate resilience and coping mechanisms. While there is new momentum for humanitarian aid to be delivered post-August, a gap in support for recovery and durable solutions remains - largely because of ongoing sanctions. Despite this, DRC continues to secure access and deliver basic services to the most vulnerable, building upon years of investment in our relationships with Afghan communities."
Deepening poverty and depleted resilience is now affecting an entire population. Their ability to cope with the consequences of more than four decades of war is compounded by recurring natural hazards, including yet another drought in 2021, the worst in 27 years, a lack of health systems, and a continuous countrywide risk from new and old explosive remnants of war.
There are limited prospects of sustainable and voluntary return for the more than 2.6 million Afghan refugees in neighboring countries. Many of the recent cross-border returns to Afghanistan from neighboring Iran and Pakistan are likely to either remigrate or risk joining the growing group of internally displaced persons, now counting 5.5 million.
"With the UN’s decision to now launch appeals for responses both in Afghanistan itself as well as in the region hosting millions of registered refugees and unregistered Afghans, we see new and strong commitment to change the narrative of the development in Afghanistan. It is our hope that the world will listen and commit to supporting people in need in Afghanistan at this crucial moment in time when we can access people and both save lives that are at risk, but also ensure that we build resilience among the Afghans," says Charlotte Slente, Secretary General of the DRC.