DRC has been present in Afghanistan in various forms since the 1990s. In 2018, DRC Afghanistan reached over 650,000 individuals with direct assistance in 18 provinces through programming interventions in the areas of Protection, Emergency Response, Mine Clearance & Risk Education (RE), Armed Violence Reduction (AVR) and Livelihoods. This support has been provided by a team of over 1,000 staff operating from main offices in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Mazar-e-Sharif and a larger number of sub-office and mobile facilities in other provinces across the country.
DRC takes a regional approach to Afghan displacement, seeking to link the work of DRC and partners in countries across the displacement axis. DRC's strategy is in line with the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) endorsed by UNHCR and the Afghan, Iranian and Pakistan Governments, as well as the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) signed up to by Afghanistan. DRC leads the Afghanistan Displacement Solutions Platform (ADSP), a coalition of NGOs aiming to address the risks for displaced populations through evidence-based solutions, as well as the Asia Mixed Migration Centre (MMC Asia) that collects and publishes data on drivers of movements to help inform policy decisions regionally and globally. At all levels, DRC works to ensure that displaced people enjoy the rights of protection and life opportunities offered under all conventions and laws that apply to them.
Communities are often the first line of protection for people affected by crisis. DRC works with communities and individuals to understand the risks they face and provide them with tailored assistance that helps them collectively and individual access their rights. Protection assistance is imbedded into community structures, provided at static Multi-Service community centres, or through mobile teams operating in hard-to-reach areas. Common types of assistance includes information services, psychosocial support and legal assistance with regards to documentation/registration.
DRC is one of the primary humanitarian actors in Afghanistan, as well as being the largest partner of the ECHO-funded Emergency Response Mechanism. In 2018, DRC reached over 8,000 unique households with shelter and other assistance as part of the drought response in the west and over 20,000 conflict-affected unique IDP households with multi-purpose cash assistance through its emergency work. With a robust operational capacity spread across the country, DRC also provides emergency logistics services, to UNHCR and other UN agencies, including transport, vehicle maintenance and refuelling services and warehousing.
Afghanistan is one of the world's countries most affected by Explosive Remnants of War (ERW). DRC delivers a full package of services through its mine action unit Danish Demining Group (DDG), including non-technical and technical survey, mine clearance, battle area clearance, and Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD), as well as Risk Education (RE). DDG has a unique people-centered approach among the Mine Action agencies in Afghanistan, with a major emphasis on RE, responding to EOD hotline calls, and linking Mine Action with DRC’s livelihood and other interventions as part of a truly integrated approach. DDG is also the first humanitarian mine action organization in Afghanistan who trained and deployed female deminers.
IDPs and Returnees often find themselves without the rights skills or connections to re-establish their livelihoods in their new environment. DRC's solutions range from short-term emergency livelihood assistance through interventions such as provision of agricultural inputs, animal re-stocking and cash-for-work, through to longer-term solutions that might involve working with the private sector to develop skills and opportunities through vocational training, job placements, and market development. This approach has been proven to successfully integrate IDPs and returnees back into existing market systems.
Armed Violence Reduction
Afghanistan has been challenged by conflict for many years, which has affected conflict mitigation and mediation structures at all levels of the population. DRC seeks to consider this through all aspects of its programme cycle, through its unique AVR programming run by DDG. DRC Programme teams are assisted to conduct conflict analysis as part of contextual analyses in different operational areas, assisting in access negotiations and adding community-based activities within and alongside DRC's normal programming to help support local level conflict mediation and mitigation.
Case: The Afghan village built from missiles
Residents of Qezelabad in Afghanistan have lived for years with unexploded weapons built into their walls and holding up their ceilings.
After Soviet troops withdrew from Afghanistan 30 years ago, following a decade-long war, the villagers could not afford building materials. They used what they could find, including missiles left behind by the Soviet army.
A de-mining team from DDG, the Danish Refugee Councils mine action unit, is working to remove the weapons, and the BBC's Aulyia Atrafi went to see them at work. See the video here:
Video by: Shoaib Sharif and Dina Demrdash, 14 Feb. 2019