Geneva, Jan. 11 (IPS) – United Nations agencies have asked for a record $ 4.4 billion in aid for Afghanistan to avert a widespread humanitarian crisis that could lead to hunger, hardship and death and a massive exodus of people from the country.
Speaking at a press conference in Geneva to kick off the relief plans, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths said it was ” biggest appeal ever to a single country for humanitarian aid ”.
“The events in Afghanistan over the past year have unfolded at breakneck speed and with profound consequences for the Afghan people,” Griffiths said. The world is puzzled and is looking for the right way to react. Meanwhile, a real humanitarian catastrophe is looming. “
These humanitarian and refugee response plans aim to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to 23 million people in Afghanistan. They will also be provided to 5.7 million Afghans displaced in local communities in five neighboring countries: Iran, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Funding will be requested by donors. The humanitarian response plan in Afghanistan called for $ 4.4 billion. If funded, it should help humanitarian organizations accelerate the delivery and production of health, education, protection, food and agricultural assistance, and access to clean water and sanitation. sanitation.
The regional refugee response plan for the situation in Afghanistan alone will require $ 623 million in funding for 40 organizations that provide protection, health and nutrition, shelter and non-food items, livelihoods and resilience, and logistics and telecommunications, among other necessary services.
Griffiths described the current humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. In 2021, it faced increased disruption to services and struggled to meet the needs of its people.
Its economy has suffered dramatically from the freezing of central bank reserves, market disruptions, not to mention the abrupt end to international development assistance, on which many basic social services depend. Serious climate-induced problems, such as the harsh winter and one of the worst droughts in the country’s history, have only exacerbated poverty among its citizens. Twenty-three million people are at risk of acute hunger.
This also represents the Afghans who have been internally displaced – 700,000. OCHA’s humanitarian aid plan takes these displaced citizens into account.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi noted that the international community must take the necessary measures to “prevent a catastrophe in Afghanistan, which not only could aggravate the suffering, but would lead to further displacement at the same time. across the country and across the region ”.
“It is essential not to forget that there is a regional dimension to this crisis,” he said. “Not only the Afghan refugees, but the people who took part in the reception.
Neighboring countries are currently hosting 5.7 million registered refugees from previous waves of forced displacement. Iran and Pakistan have 2.2 million Afghan refugees. While they have implemented inclusive policies in the areas of education and health, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the needs of countries, which has posed challenges for these governments to continue their policies of ‘inclusion.
UNHCR’s plan will directly support 40 partner organizations working in the region to provide emergency relief, health and social services, education and protection to refugees and host communities. It is also believed to work closely together to improve the livelihoods and resilience of Afghans, especially those who are more vulnerable to exploitation or abuse when crossing borders.
One of the objectives of the press conference was to ensure the stability of the country by supporting efforts to rebuild economic and social structures.
“The key here is to stabilize the situation inside Afghanistan, which includes the internally displaced,” Grandi said.
Griffiths also noted that it is crucial to invest in services and structures so that the country is ultimately “safe for those who have been displaced to return to their homes”.
UN leaders expressed hope that the relief plans would meet their target goals with the requested funding.
“With continuous adaptation, continuous adjustment, plans can improve and access to services can improve,” Griffiths said.
The Taliban’s seizure of power in August 2021 contributed to the decline of the economy and the freezing of international development assistance. He threatened to undermine services, further undermining development gains made over the past two decades. Education was used as the best example, with concern that girls would be allowed to go back to school or go back to mixed classes with boys.
The involvement of the Taliban in the relief plans raises concerns. However, Griffiths said partner organizations in Afghanistan, almost all NGOs, would “get the money directly,” including programs that directly pay frontline workers in the health and education sector.
Grandi noted that their UN colleagues on the ground are in daily talks with the Taliban, who have been open to discussing the scope of these programs, saying: “Humanitarian aid … has created a space for dialogue.
“It is this space that we must preserve … which can then be developed and made room for stabilization.”
An open dialogue between the international community and the Taliban would be necessary to provide immediate assistance to Afghanistan and the region, ultimately paving the way for the stabilization of the region and the alleviation of its dependence on them. donors. With this in mind and the palpable urgency to protect the Afghan people, UNCHR and OCHA are launching their plans for 2022.
When asked at the conference what would happen to Afghans if they did not receive the necessary funds, Grandi said that if the country’s humanitarian system collapsed, it would likely lead to a mass exodus of people to states. neighbors and beyond. “We will need this solidarity in these neighboring countries because they will be the first to be affected.”
Griffiths added that in addition to seeing “hunger, distress, death, despair, at the family level … we would deprive the Afghan people of the hope that their homes would be safe and that they could spend the rest there. of his life”.
© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service