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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations



For many years, military and insurgent operations in Pakistan have caused human suffering and large-scale internal displacement.

The situation is compounded by the presence of an estimated 3 million Afghans, including more than 1.4 million registered refugees.

Pakistan also suffers recurring natural hazards and some of the worst food shortages and chronic malnutrition rates in the world.

What are the needs?

Pakistan has been hosting Afghan refugees for the past 4 decades, making it one of the largest recipients of refugees globally.

Since 2021, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has recorded nearly 145,000 newly arrived Afghans who may need international protection. However, the real number is thought to be significantly higher.

Providing protection and basic lifesaving services for the most vulnerable Afghans remains a key priority. This is especially important for undocumented refugees, who are at most risk of deportation and have limited access to jobs and essential services.

In 2014, the areas bordering Afghanistan were affected by large-scale internal displacement. This was due to a military campaign that forced millions of people out of their homes, adding to those still displaced from previous years.

Although 1.5 million internally displaced people have returned home, conditions in areas of return are dire. Returnees find damaged infrastructure, including homes and water supply, limited health and education services, and few job opportunities.

Pakistan is one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries, experiencing frequent disasters such as earthquakes, floods and recurrent droughts.

Malnutrition and limited access to water, sanitation and medical services have compromised the health care capacities of the most vulnerable communities. In addition, the current COVID-19 pandemic has added to existing humanitarian needs.


How are we helping?

In 2022, the EU allocated an initial €7 million in humanitarian support, bringing a total of €104 million to Pakistan since 2016. EU humanitarian aid supports people affected by conflict, including Pakistani internally displaced and returnees, Afghan refugees, and those affected by natural hazards.

The EU assists the most vulnerable displaced Pakistanis, both in their areas of refuge and in the destroyed areas to which they have returned. They receive support for education, and water and sanitation facilities.

Although most Afghan refugees are integrated into Pakistani society, more than half of them are considered extremely poor, according to official data. EU-funded projects assist them with healthcare services, nutrition, education, water and sanitation facilities, and legal protection services.

EU humanitarian funding also focuses on responding to natural hazards such as earthquakes, recurrent floods and drought. For example, in October 2021, the EU provided emergency humanitarian assistance to families affected by the devastating earthquake that struck Pakistan’s south-western province of Balochistan.

The EU also supports programmes to enhance the disaster preparedness capacity of communities in areas prone to both natural hazards and human-induced disasters. Current initiatives focus on strengthening health systems to prepare for and respond to malnutrition, recurrent droughts, and other disasters.

In 2020, we allocated close to €40 million in humanitarian funding, of which 60% went towards fighting COVID-19.

The EU has operated in Pakistan since the 1990s, providing humanitarian assistance to people affected by conflict and major natural hazards, including the 2005 earthquake and the devastating 2010-2015 floods, which affected more than 30 million people. Relief items were channelled to flood victims through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

Last updated: 31/03/2022
Picture: European Union, 2020 (photographer: Mallika Panorat)

Facts & figures

An estimated 3 million documented and undocumented displaced Afghans.

More than 104,000 registered internally displaced people (IDMC 2020).

EU humanitarian aid:
€7 million in 2022
Over €104 million since 2016