Afghanistan: Lack of funding in the midst of a deeper humanitarian crisis

Ramiz Alakbarov, UN resident and humanitarian coordinator for Afghanistan, said a $ 1.3 billion appeal, launched earlier this year, is less than 40 percent funded.

About 18 million Afghans, or half the population, need help. One third of the country is malnourished, while half of all children under the age of five experience acute malnutrition.

The $ 450 million received so far, half of which came from the United States, is far from necessary.

“Our plan is to provide assistance to at least 15.7 million people, and right now it will not be possible without these additional contributions,” said Mr. Alakbarov, who spoke via video conference to journalists in New York.

Refugees deported, borders closed

Development is taking place as the deadline for foreign troops to fully withdraw from the country approaches.

The drought, the second in three years, and the ongoing military response in the wake of a “spring offensive” by the Taliban have uprooted about 270,000 people who have fled rural areas to urban centers.

In the northern city of Kunduz, for example, about 35,000 displaced people are being housed in schools and public buildings and in need of food, water and sanitation. The fundamentalist Taliban, which has been fighting the internationally recognized central government for years, has taken over all the districts around the city.

Meanwhile, neighboring countries, such as Iran, have deported Afghan refugees from their territories. Humanitarian people are also witnessing “very intensive” population movements in areas near the borders with Iran and Pakistan, which are now largely closed.

The closures have not yet affected humanitarian staff, as aid stocks are sufficient to last until the end of August.

Concern for women and girls

Mr. Alakbarov has visited five regions of Afghanistan in as many weeks. The UN official was particularly concerned about the situation of women and girls facing “very difficult conditions”.

He recalled talking to the head of a household in Kandahar, located in the south, where families move in groups of about 50 to 60 relatives.

“I have asked how many women have been pregnant and giving birth in the last three months while on the go,” he said. “In the extended family, four women have given birth to children. Three of them died.”

Although humanitarian troops continue to operate in most of Afghanistan’s 405 districts, Mr Alakbarov reported an increase in access and violence.

Twenty-five humanitarian workers have been killed since the beginning of the year and 63 have been injured, a 30 percent increase over 2020. The victims have included female health workers and deminers.

More than 1,000 “interferences”, threats and barriers to entry have been reported so far this year, corresponding to the total number in 2020.

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