Banner image courtesy of Asma Halimi / @asmahalimi_photography

What is happening in Afghanistan at the moment?

Last month, the Afghan Taliban took control of Afghanistan. Whilst a new Taliban government has now been formed, there is still tremendous uncertainty as to what the future holds for the Afghan people. However one thing which is clear is that the insecurity is continuing to fuel a wave of internal displacement as people seek safety for themselves and their families. Many of these families are now stuck somewhere in the country, with no access to safe water, shelter or food. 

The country is now in the grip of a major economic crisis. Many international donors have suspended aid, the US has frozen Afghanistan’s US Dollar reserves and as a result the banking system is barely functioning. Our work is continuing despite all this and we are actively looking at ways to mitigate the impact but unless financial support is resumed soon a further avoidable catastrophe will unfold.

How did we get here?

In February 2020, the Afghan Taliban signed a peace agreement with the US in advance of the withdrawal of US troops, proposed for the following year. Later that year, in September the ‘intra-Afghan talks’ began in Doha, Qatar. Progress in these talks was slow but, by the end of the year, the two sides had reached an agreement on the guiding principles for the negotiations, so that the process could properly begin.

Despite the peace talks, the violence continued to cause the deaths and injury of men, women and children throughout the year - including the targeting of teachers, healthcare workers and humanitarian workers - and a rise in the number of people forced to flee their homes. According to the International Organization for Migration, there were 4 million people driven from their homes in Afghanistan in 2020 - increasing from 1.2 million in 2016 and half a million in 2013. These displaced families settled in areas that were already struggling to cope, many living in grim conditions with limited access to clean water, food, health care or employment. Their situation was worsened by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and by a disastrous drought in many districts.  

With the withdrawal of foreign troops, this year violence intensified, homes and lives have been lost and hundreds of thousands of people have been driven from their homes. The UN reports that in the first half of 2021 more women and children were killed and wounded in Afghanistan than in the first six months of any year since they began systematically keeping count in 2009.

The current situation remains very uncertain. The United Nations Special Representative for Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, has warned the Security Council of the consequences of yet another civil war in Afghanistan, which is not only catastrophic for the Afghan people but will also “increase insecurity for many other countries, near and far”. Our best hope is that calm returns across the country in a relatively short period of time.

What is Afghanaid doing in response? 

We have now reopened nearly all of our offices and restarted work in Kabul and in three of the four provinces where we currently have programmes running. In Daykundi, Ghor and Badakhshan both men and women are back at work and we are delivering both UN-funded emergency assistance and important development work focussed on climate change adaptation and improving livelihoods.

Afghanaid calls on FCDO, EU and other big donors to urgently resume and increase humanitarian and development aid to the country. The most effective way to deliver this aid is through the UN and the established NGOs who have years of experience of delivering support across the country regardless of who exercises control locally. For Afghanaid, our strong local roots and our reputation for impartiality are a huge strength in this context. The Taliban from Doha have so far been supportive of NGOs and we are finding that position is also being adopted by local commanders, who our teams have been in discussions with, explaining who we are and what we do.

How can you help families in Afghanistan?

Since the beginning of 2021, over half a million people have fled from their homes and more still have lost their livelihoods in the war. Please make a donation today to provide urgent help to men, women and children in Afghanistan:

Donate

Did you find this post interesting? Subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates from us every month.