Unprecedented humanitarian needs in Afghanistan require bold response from international donors

Statement by Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, on the humanitarian pledging conference for Afghanistan

“This conference marks an opportunity for the international community to turn a corner and show we stand with Afghanistan in these dark hours. Despite Afghans living through two decades of conflict, what we see today is today truly unprecedented. It is one of the world’s major crises, with humanitarian indicators like hunger and malnutrition spiralling.

“The economic crash unravelling since August 2021 has driven levels of humanitarian needs, while also making the aid response challenging. We see first-hand the adverse impact this has on vulnerable communities. Many families are forced to skip meals and can’t afford basic health or education expenses.

“Humanitarian funding is desperately needed, and we expect donors to dig deep to support Afghans. In addition, we must see the international community set out firm policy commitments to help address the economic root causes of this humanitarian crisis and stabilise the economy. Until the economy is on a path to recovery, donors must also continue to support interim measures to ensure humanitarians can access cash in the country. Finally, donors must step up and ensure support to Afghanistan’s neighbours is forthcoming and share the responsibility to help them continue hosting refugees.”

Background on the conference:

The Afghanistan Conference 2022 is a virtual ministerial-level pledging event on supporting the humanitarian response. UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, will convene the meeting. He will be joined by co-hosts, including the Governments of Qatar, the United Kingdom and Germany. The event will take place on 31 March 2022, from 15.00-17.00 CET / 9.00-13.00 EST.

Facts and figures on Afghanistan:

  • The 2022 humanitarian aid appeal for Afghanistan calls for US$4.44 billion to help 22 million people in need across the country. It is the largest ever country appeal.
  • The 2022 Refugee Response Plan seeks to assist nearly 6 million people, including Afghan and host communities in Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, for a total of US$623 million.
  • Over 24 million people – more than half of the Afghan population – need humanitarian assistance to survive. That is an increase of 30 per cent from last year.
  • Almost 23 million Afghans face acute hunger, including nearly 9 million people one step away from starvation. It is the highest number in the world.
  • Last year 1.3 million people have been internally displaced nationwide. This is an unprecedentedly high number, due to a combination of conflict and natural disasters.
  • A staggering 97 per cent of Afghans could plunge into poverty by mid-2022, owing to successive shocks and the economic crisis, according to UNDP.
  • As many as 95 per cent of the population is not eating enough food, according to WFP.
  • NRC has been present in Afghanistan since 2003. We have 1,400 Afghan employees and work in 14 provinces across the country. We assisted over 840,000 people in 2021.

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