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Afghanistan Emergency Situation
The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has dramatically worsened due to the recent wave of violence and insecurity, resulting in significant new displacement of civilians within the country. As the evacuation flights from Kabul airport ended on 30 August, the needs in Afghanistan remain enormous with some 50% of the population requiring humanitarian assistance.
There are some 570,000 newly internally displaced persons (IDPs) induced by conflict since January 2021, which increased by almost 20,000 since the last update. The priority needs of IDPs remain shelter, non-food items, livelihoods, and cash assistance to meet their basic needs, according to the most recent inter-agency assessments. UNHCR has access to all provinces in Afghanistan, operating in some two thirds of district. In August, UNHCR has assisted some 20,000 IDPs through its emergency programming, including through the provision of tents, cash, hygiene kits, and other essential items. This brings the number of IDPs that UNHCR has provided emergency assistance to this year to some 240,000 individuals. Humanitarian assistance and other distributions by UNHCR and partners are ongoing in Kabul, Helmand, Zabul, Kunar, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Badghis, and other provinces.
3.5 million people are internally displaced (IDPs) inside Afghanistan due to conflict, including 550,000 newly displaced in 2021 alone. The number of people forced to flee may yet still increase.
Families who have recently been displaced within Afghanistan speak of having to flee at a moment’s notice, only with the clothes on their backs. The risk of improvised explosive devices attacks by armed groups along the roads is high. The needs of those who have had to flee suddenly are acute.
With more than 2.6 million registered Afghan refugees worldwide, the Afghans constitute one of the largest protracted refugee situations under UNHCR’s mandate. 90% of all registered Afghan refugees (2.2 million) continue to be hosted by neighboring countries – Iran and Pakistan.
Afghanistan’s children are growing up amid this crisis. Afghanistan today has a population of 40 million people, most of them young, facing insecurity and economic challenges, with over 80% of those displaced in the violence since May being women and children. The current and unfolding situation is especially challenging for women and girls, with concerns for their education and hopes for the future being threatened.
The people of Afghanistan have lived with conflict and instability for more than four decades. Some generations have never known peace. Now, their negative coping mechanisms are being exacerbated and high levels of displacement, further impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, deepening poverty, and recurrent natural disasters.
With estimates that less than 4 percent of the entire population is fully vaccinated, the spread of COVID-19 in Afghanistan is making the situation far worse. The health system is already overwhelmed, and primary care is disrupted for patients with other conditions – but the country is seeing a dramatic and continuous rise in COVID-19 cases. While some vaccines are beginning to arrive thanks to the COVAX Facility, there are still millions of people vulnerable to coronavirus.
Humanitarian resources are currently falling dramatically short. We call on donors to remain steadfast in their support for humanitarian operations in Afghanistan and are also appealing for more support. UNHCR’s Supplementary Appeal for the Afghanistan Situation highlights US$62.8 million as urgent needs to support the response for internally displaced people in Afghanistan as well as preparedness in Afghanistan and its neighbouring countries. These requirements are part of the US$351 million requirements for the Afghanistan situation, which remains drastically underfunded at 43 per cent.