OCHA briefing on Afghanistan humanitarian crisis

Helicopter in approach, Afghanistan Helicopter in approach, Afghanistan Photo by Andre Klimke on Unsplash

02 February 2021

The OCHA published an update on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) held a press briefing with the United Nations (UN) Members States on the critical situation in Afghanistan to underline the need for a 2021 humanitarian action plan. Indeed, the need for humanitarian assistance due to ongoing conflicts, COVID-19 and climate shocks increased exponentially in Afghanistan. 

The UN Acting Assistant-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy

Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ramesh Rajasingham, stated that almost half of the Afghanistan population, which stands at 40,4 million people, needs emergency aid. The number of people living in difficult conditions has doubled from 9,4 million at the start of 2020 to 18,4 million in 2021 and almost 17 million people are suffering food insecurity, especially children under-five who are facing malnutrition and require treatment. Moreover, according to the statement of Ramesh Rajasingham, who visited Afghanistan in December, more than 300,000 people across the country have been forced to flee conflict. 

Furthermore, health facilities, schools and workers are constantly targeted by attacks. Civilian casualties remain extremely high, with women and children severely impacted. For instance, according to the 2021 humanitarian needs and response plan in 2020, there were 155 attacks against schools, while 165 incidents against health facilities or personnel were recorded in the first 11 months of 2020, with humanitarians facing 1,006 access constraints. 

As such, the briefing has stressed that all parties to the conflict must renew their commitment to respect international humanitarian law. The economic crisis and loss of assets continue to be felt by the entire population, whose wellbeing and dignity are compromised. The OCHA has proposed a response plan determining the budget to address humanitarian needs, which amounts to $1.1 billion, however, only $558,8 million have been funded. Nevertheless, to avoid population sufferance and to end the 40-year long conflict, a peace negotiation process must be put in place to ensure a safer future for Afghanistan.


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Author: Eleonora Gonnelli; Editor: Benedetta Spizzichino

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