The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is considered one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. The country suffers large-scale humanitarian needs, displacement and a severe food crisis. This is due to decades of conflict, recurrent droughts, and a sharp economic decline due to recent political developments.
Despite the challenges posed by the withdrawal of international troops and the Taliban takeover, the EU continues to provide life-saving assistance in Afghanistan. EU humanitarian aid focuses on health care, nutritional support, cash, and protection assistance. This also includes areas that the government and other bodies covering basic needs of the local populations cannot reach.
What are the needs?
The COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 spring drought, persisting political insecurities and continued violence have further deteriorated the humanitarian situation.
Today, more than 24 million people need humanitarian assistance inside the country. Close to 23 million people – 55 % of the Afghan population – suffer from hunger and 8.7 million have less than one meal per day.
More than 5.8 million people have been internally displaced by conflict and disasters since 2012, including 710,000 people in 2021 alone. Many of them have no means to earn a living. Since August 2021, the deepening economic crisis has increasingly triggered displacement.
Meanwhile, close to 6.5 million Afghans still live as refugees in neighbouring Iran and Pakistan – many without registration or legal status.
Over 1.17 million people returned from Iran and Pakistan in 2021. The influx of returnees has strained the capacity of existing services. It has also caused concerns about their reintegration and living conditions.
Also, severe weather conditions, including drought, heavy snowfall, flash floods and avalanches, regularly affect thousands of people and their homes.
How are we helping?
Given the intensity of the conflict and humanitarian needs, the EU’s priority is to provide life-saving assistance.
In 2022, the EU allocated more than €115 million in humanitarian support to humanitarian organisations operating in Afghanistan and the region. This comes on top of €222 million in humanitarian funding in 2021.
The EU has funded humanitarian operations in Afghanistan since 1994, providing over €1.4 billion.
EU humanitarian aid is never channelled through governments or armed groups, but funding is allocated to our humanitarian partners on the ground. The funding strictly adheres to the humanitarian principles of independence, impartiality and neutrality to ensure it reaches Afghans most in need.
The 2022 funding will ensure critical relief assistance to the most vulnerable, including the victims of war, forced displacement and natural hazards. Interventions focus on providing emergency (i) health care, (ii) shelter, (iii) food assistance, (iv) access to clean water and sanitation facilities, as well as (v) various protection services targeting women and children.
In response to the devastating 5.9 magnitude earthquake that struck eastern Afghanistan in June 2022, the EU allocated €1 million to humanitarian partners.
This funding addresses the most urgent needs of affected Afghans. It will help provide medical assistance, water, sanitation and hygiene services and shelter to the most affected and disadvantaged communities.
In 2022, EU funding also addressed the food insecurity and health emergencies related to the 2021 spring drought, conflict, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The support for COVID-19 patients and preventing the further spread of the virus is part of the continued funding.
To facilitate the delivery of life-saving aid, the EU has carried close to 600 tonnes of cargo in 19 Humanitarian Air Bridge cargo flights since August 2021.
This cargo includes surgical equipment and medical supplies critical to continue providing life-saving medical assistance in Afghanistan. Additional flights will bring duly needed humanitarian cargo to Afghanistan in the upcoming months.
EU assistance is distributed by 27 humanitarian organisations, including the United Nations and other EU humanitarian partners operating in the country.
The EU also funds the Emergency Response Mechanism, which ensures timely and flexible emergency assistance to people who have been recently displaced.
This initial provision of life-saving assistance has allowed other humanitarian agencies to coordinate and plan further assistance in the mid- and long-term. It also helped EU partners to deliver solid advocacy efforts for the early mobilisation of development and stabilisation funds.
Furthermore, the EU supports life-saving health services whilst ensuring access to health care for people in areas where regular health services are disrupted. Health facilities continue to report record-high admission levels.
The EU also supports a particular nutrition response considering the more than 3 million children under 5 suffering from malnutrition in Afghanistan. In 2022 1.1 million acutely malnourished children under the age of 5 years are expected to need treatment.
The EU also funds education projects for children who were forced out of school due to conflict or displacement. EU funding supports humanitarian flights, the provision of security information to non-governmental organisations and the coordination of humanitarian interventions.
Last updated: 07/07/2022
Picture: © European Union, 2019 (photographer: Peter Biro)
Facts & figures
More than 5.8 million peopledisplaced.
24 million peoplein need of assistance, out of which more than 13 million are children
1.1 million children under 5 years old are acutely malnourished and need medical treatment.
More than 6.5 million Afghans live in Iran and Pakistan.
EU humanitarian aid funding:
Over €115 million in 2022
Over €222 million in 2021
Close to €1.4 billion since 1994