Situation - Over the past year, the people of Afghanistan weathered a series of shocks that compounded pre-existing fragility and led to extreme suffering.
IOM Actions- Alongside our international partners, IOM calls upon the de-facto authorities to respect, protect, and ensure the unfettered rights and freedoms of all persons – especially women and girls. This includes, among others, the freedom of movement, the right to work and education, and the right to seek asylum.
We are extremely proud of the dedication our staff in Afghanistan, both women and men, and the support they have given to those in need. They have worked tirelessly, responding to humanitarian needs while shoring up development gains, and providing life-saving assistance such as food, water, hygiene, health, return assistance, livelihood, infrastructure rehabilitation, social cohesion and protection services to more than 1.3 million people.
In parallel, we have scaled up our response in neighbouring countries, supporting governments and host communities to achieve socio-economic recovery and inclusive sustainable development.
IOM has not and will not abandon the people of Afghanistan at their time of greatest need. We call upon the international community and our donor partners to continue to support our efforts, the efforts of our humanitarian partners, and the people of Afghanistan. Despite the progress made to date, millions more need our help – today – and the sustained commitment of all countries to receive Afghan refugees, to fully integrate them into societies, and to refrain from deportations, arbitrary detention, and discrimination, remains essential.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) continues to expand its relief operations across Afghanistan in response to mounting, complex humanitarian needs fueled by natural disasters and insecurity while reengaging established livelihood, promoting durable solutions, community development and infrastructure projects.
IOM, along with the rest of the humanitarian community, is committed to stay and deliver relief and assistance to mobile and displaced populations in Afghanistan as well as local communities. We will continue to operate in a neutral and impartial manner but insist on unimpeded access and assurances that our staff and service providers can deliver assistance and services – particularly to women and girls and those most vulnerable - without interference.
IOM’s financial requirements under the joint Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for Afghanistan in 2022 total USD 380.9 million, targeting 3.2 million among the most vulnerable people including those on the move.
On 22 June 2022, a powerful earthquake of 6.1 magnitude occurred in remote parts of southeastern Afghanistan, with the provinces of Paktika and Khost being most affected. Hundreds of people have been confirmed dead, hundreds more have sustained injuries while unknown numbers are buried in the rubble of ruined mud houses. To date IOM has identified 1,705 affected families needing urgent relief assistance and as the assessment remains ongoing this figure of people in need, the death toll and the number of injured is expected to rise. Distribution of relief assistance is expected to commence on 25 June to address the urgent shelter and NFI needs of the families that are currently living out in open spaces.
Immediate needs are lifesaving: water, shelter, food and access to emergency health care. These needs are intensified as the area was already a hot spot for food insecurity and water borne disease prior to the earthquake. Of the 1,705 HH surveyed to date 88% are severely destroyed and destruction is widespread. WASH infrastructure is also being reported as damaged. An Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD) alert for the affected provinces was also received one day before the earthquake struck. An already vulnerable community is now highly in need of safe water access to prevent the spread of water borne disease.
Emergency health needs are high, with many sustaining injuries during the earthquake. Mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) has been identified as a critical need to support an already vulnerable communities to deal with the aftermath of the disaster. The Gender in Humanitarian Action (GiHA) group have also raised the alarm that women and children are at risk with many also sleeping out in the open. Female humanitarian workers will be key to ensure that women and girls can be reached and their needs appropriately assessed.
IOM is leading a joint interagency assessment team in Paktika and Khost provinces. The assessment is looking to determine the shelter damage as well as the intersectoral needs on the ground, so that agencies may response to both short term life saving response as well as longer term recovery planning. The assessment began on 23 June and is continuing with approximately 20% complete. Teams will begin responding in assessed areas whilst continuing the assessment work simultaneously in other affected areas.
SNFI: As an immediate response – 1,200 family emergency shelter and NFI kits have been dispatched. Distribution will begin today, 25th June. The kits include emergency tents, NFIs and emergency shelter reconstruction tool kits. An additional 27 trucks are being loaded to deliver more emergency shelter and NFI kits to another 1,000 families across three districts in the affected provinces of Paktika and Khost.
WASH: 8,000 hygiene kits and materials have been prepositioned as part of the WASH cluster core pipeline. 3000 jerry cans for household water storage as well as 20 bladders for community level water storage solutions and are ready and available to distribute to partners as needed. Health and MHPSS: 2 Mobile health teams with integrated MHPSS capacity have been sent to Paktika including 6 female MHPSS councilors. 5 tons of medicines (including antibiotics, analgesics and medicine for a primary health care services) have been sent with the mobile teams and more are being prepositioned.
Response to earthquake affected populations was already part of IOMs consolidated appeals process in line with the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) and the earthquake preparedness planning at interagency level. IOM has, in coordination with its donors utilized existing stocks. Funds and capacity to launch an immediate response to the earthquake to get much needed lifesaving assistance to those affected and displaced by the disaster. IOM is looking to expand its overall funding envelope for Afghanistan to ensure that we can respond to the earthquake in the southeast whilst ensuring that response to the wider humanitarian crisis ongoing in Afghanistan is not compromised. Looking ahead, IOM is also discussing with its funding partners how longer term funding can be utilized for safe durable shelter solutions and livelihood opportunities for those affected by this disaster.
Millions of Afghans have been displaced from their homes due to decades of conflict, natural disasters, and political and economic upheaval. Over one million have been displaced just in the past year alone.
Since August 2020, IOM has organized the dignified and orderly travel of more than 60,000 Afghan evacuees from temporary housing locations in the United States to their final destination cities across the country. Many arrived to an unfamiliar place just in time for winter’s freezing temperatures and with only the clothes on their backs.
Upon realizing the urgent need for more adequate gear, USA for IOM partnered with UNIQLO to deliver over 16,000 articles of winter clothing to Afghans in need. Through its “Warmer Together” philanthropic campaign, UNIQLO also matched their customers’ contributions to further their support for displaced families.
This week, the humanitarian community convened to raise awareness of the particular needs inside Afghanistan. Over 24 million people – more than half the population– require lifesaving assistance, and the consequences of inaction will be swift and severe, and difficult, if not impossible, to reverse.
With over 760 staff operating across the country, IOM teams are providing critical shelter support to help the most vulnerable families survive the harsh winter season. Mobile health teams have been deployed to some of the hardest-to-reach areas in an effort to shore up the country’s fragile health care system. As cross-border movements continue, IOM continues to provide assistance to returnees at key border points and IOM-managed reception centers.
As IOM’s nonprofit partner, USA for IOM supports the operations of IOM globally by raising awareness and fostering philanthropic partnerships like the one with UNIQLO. USA for IOM continues to urge for solidarity with the Afghan people and calls on support from individuals, foundations and corporations interested in contributing resources reflective of their philanthropic priorities and our shared values.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) continues to expand its relief operations across Afghanistan in response to mounting, complex humanitarian needs fuelled by drought and conflict while reengaging established livelihood, community development and infrastructure projects.
IOM, along with the rest of the humanitarian community, is committed to stay and deliver relief and assistance to mobile and displaced populations in Afghanistan. We will continue to operate in a neutral and impartial manner but insist on unimpeded access and assurances that our staff and service providers can deliver assistance and services – particularly to women and girls and those most vulnerable - without interference.
IOM’s financial requirements under the joint Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for Afghanistan in 2021 total USD 108.5 million, targeting 1.9 million among the most vulnerable people including those on the move. This includes a USD 24 million appeal released in August which outlines immediate funding requirements in order to respond to pressing humanitarian needs.
Statement by António Vitorino, Director General, International Organization for Migration
Kabul – Conflict and insecurity, grinding poverty exacerbated by an economy in freefall, severe drought and the COVID-19 pandemic have pushed Afghanistan to the brink of collapse.
I leave the country after a two-day visit deeply impressed by the work being done by humanitarian actors and the resilience of the Afghan people in the face of immense challenges.
I am, however, profoundly concerned for the future: as the bitter winter approaches, there is a real risk that the deteriorating humanitarian situation will result in increased displacement, vulnerability and suffering, and that the modest social and development gains of the past two decades will be lost.
Five and a half million people are internally displaced – roughly the population of Finland – including more than 670,000 forced to leave their homes so far this year, 60 per cent of whom are children. Aid and support is needed for mobile populations, including internally displaced people, returnees and under-served host communities.
We are indeed in a race against time, as emphasized by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, to help these people prepare for winter. We are going “door to door” to see what is needed and are providing shelter, blankets, warm clothing, and cash for fuel and heating. We are planning to expand winterization assistance to every province in the country to reach 200,000 people in need.
More than half the population is struggling to eat, malnutrition is reaching dramatic levels, especially for many children, and over 80 per cent of the people we have surveyed say they have lost their jobs and livelihoods. Millions are living in inadequate shelters with limited access to basic services, including sanitation and health care.
Increasing returns to the country have compounded the challenges. More than 1 million Afghans have returned from Iran and Pakistan this year, while others are trying to leave the country. The majority were deported, returning to Afghanistan often broke and broken, in need of health support, food and rest. The task of reuniting with family and reintegrating into communities – especially for those who have been in Iran or Pakistan for years – is tremendously difficult considering the high levels of unemployment and food insecurity.
Climate change has also hit Afghanistan hard and contributed largely to internal displacement. We estimate that around 70 per cent of the population has been impacted by drought and flooding. Crop failures are a reality, and an economic collapse would be devastating.
I am convinced that inclusive, comprehensive measures are the best way to protect and promote livelihoods – especially those of Afghan women – and to ensure access to essential services for conflict-affected communities across the country.
While international action intensifies to meet urgent humanitarian needs, I believe it is also critical to support sustainable livelihoods, and work with the Afghan people to reduce their risk and vulnerability to climate change, conflict and further disasters as we have been doing for decades. This can be done through targeted initiatives to promote resilience and adaptability. IOM is already implementing risk reduction, transition and early recovery programmes across Afghanistan, including critical infrastructure works to protect communities from floods, and to bolster the productivity of farmlands.
Most importantly, all interventions, aid and support must embrace and empower the women and girls who are indispensable to the future of Afghanistan. The country will struggle to attain peace, stability and development without their active inclusion and contributions. The entire Afghan population, including women, men, boys and girls across all ethnic groups, must remain fully represented and able to participate meaningfully in the daily life of their communities and country.
IOM is committed to staying and delivering in full solidarity with the Afghan people. More can and must be done, but it will take the sustained attention and generosity of the global community to harness the strength of the people and avoid a humanitarian catastrophe the fallout from which could reverberate across regions and generations.
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