As Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis deepens, People in Need has supported 800 familiesPublished: Nov 4, 2021 Reading time: 4 minutes
People in Need (PIN), one of the first international humanitarian NGOs to launch a cash assistance programme to vulnerable people in Afghanistan, has supported more than 800 families in Kabul since the American withdrawal in August. With PIN’s Afghanistan Emergency Appeal and funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, some 4,000 vulnerable households, and roughly 28,000 people, are expected to be supported through this initiative by the end of the year.
And yet, while PIN has managed to keep aid flows open since the Taliban takeover two months ago, the humanitarian situation across the country remains dire and will continue to worsen as winter approaches. The combination of conflict, record drought, economic crisis, and the ongoing pandemic has deprived people of livelihoods. Every second Afghan, a total of 22.8 million people, is now facing acute hunger.
The goal of financial support for vulnerable families, most of whom have fled fighting in other parts of Afghanistan, is to help them prepare for the harsh winter months. Each of the 800 supported households to date – approximately 5,600 people – received local currency equivalent to $75-$90 USD, and have used the funds for basic necessities such as groceries, rent, and fuel. Some distributions also included information on prevention and mitigation of COVID-19.
PIN has been working in Afghanistan for two decades, and is coordinating with local authorities to ensure that we can continue providing aid to those who need it. Says Tomáš Kocian, People in Need’s Regional Director for Middle East and Afghanistan: "Currently, we are involved in several field assessments of need being conducted under the auspices of the United Nations. This way, our colleagues are able to evaluate and respond immediately to the current needs of the people, especially the most vulnerable such as women, children and seniors, while at the same time coordinate our work with other humanitarian organisations in the country."
Eighteen-year-old Abdullah, who takes care of a family of six, is among those PIN has supported. "The precarious situation led me to flee with my four sisters and mother from my hometown in Baghlan Province to Kabul," he says, adding that they could only take basic items with them – such as clothes, blankets, and documents. Abdullah says they did not have enough food when they moved. Upon arrival in Kabul, the Afghan Department of Refugees and Repatriations supported him with four bags of flour, 18 litres of cooking oil, and cash assistance. "The unemployment rate is very high,” Abdullah says. “The support I received from People in Need will help me pay the rent for our house and buy some food."
Noorbegum, from Baghlan Province, is 64 years old; she also received PIN’s cash assistance. Noorbegum lost her husband a few years ago and today takes care of four children by herself. "Due to the war in our area, we had to leave our house and all the household equipment and come to Kabul just with our clothes," she says. Noorbegum suffers from diabetes and orthopaedic disease and would like to use part of the funds from PIN for her treatment. She also plans to buy clothes for her daughters. "This support means a lot to me,” she says. Still, Noorbegum looks to the future with uncertainty. Her children remain out of school, and she doesn’t know when they will return. "My greatest wish is peace for our country,” she says, adding: “I look forward to a day when there will be no hunger."
Sayed Yahya, 41, from Ghazni Province, has similar concerns. "The war in our hometown has made my family afraid for their lives and thinking of fleeing to another place," he says. Sayed is the head of a family of nine; they left everything behind when they fled fighting in search of safety in Kabul. "After arriving at the new place, we needed a house, some clothes, and food," said Sayed. While a bakery helped his family with 1,500 Afghani ($16.5 USD) and four bags of flour, which allowed him to use the cash aid to rent a house, the family’s needs continue. "I am afraid of winter in Kabul,” he said, but “support from People in Need will help us for a while. With this cash I will pay the rent of my house, prepare for winter, and buy a push cart that I will use as a source of income."
PIN’s ability to support people like Abdullah, Noorbegum, and Sayed is made possible by the generous donors who have contributed to the Afghanistan Emergency Appeal. So far, 3.8 million Czech crowns (about $172,000 USD) has been raised. Support for the most vulnerable people is also possible thanks to funds from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. Many thanks to all donors for helping the people of Afghanistan.