Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) has a long and proud history of supporting the people of Afghanistan in their time of need, and now is no different. Almost all Islamic Relief Afghanistan’s staff are Afghan nationals, passionately committed to serving their people and communities. We are determined to stand with our brave staff in standing by Afghanistan, ensuring that we continue to deliver vital aid and further expand our work in the country.
An entire generation of Afghans has known nothing but conflict. They deserve peace, prosperity and development. We aim to work with Afghan communities and civil society to help build a better future for the country, where every person lives in safety, has access to food, healthcare, water and education, and has the skills and opportunities to earn a sustainable living.
Afghanistan is on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe.
Even before the current turmoil, nearly half of all Afghans were living in poverty and in need of assistance. A triple disaster of many years of conflict, climate change and now the impact of Covid-19, has pushed many families to the brink of survival.
The current situation means Afghanistan’s hunger crisis is worsening by the day and is one of the worst in the world. With food supplies running out, prices skyrocketing and unemployment rising, many families are increasingly desperate, especially in rural areas. Women and children are particularly affected, with many reduced to one meal a day and some even going days on end without food.
Almost 600,000 people have been displaced within Afghanistan so far this year, mostly to seek aid in Kabul and other major cities. Thousands who have fled in recent weeks are sheltering in basic tents, without aid and at risk of outbreaks of diarrhoea and other diseases. Other people have fled the country as refugees, adding to the more than 2.2 million Afghan refugees globally.
As needs increase, the current uncertainty and insecurity mean that much vital humanitarian work is on hold. It is absolutely vital that humanitarian organisations have safe access and sufficient funding to reach people in need.
The international community has a duty not to turn its back on the people of Afghanistan. As the humanitarian need spiral out of control, donors must urgently provide sufficient funding for vital aid. This funding should be fast-tracked and flexible, so that agencies can adapt to the rapidly changing context.
We urge the new authorities and all other groups to adhere to international humanitarian law and ensure that humanitarian aid can be delivered safely, impartially and without obstruction, to all people in need. Both male and female humanitarian staff should be allowed to carry out their work. Humanitarian agencies must be able to operate in all areas with all communities, based on need and in accordance with humanitarian principles.
We condemn all violence against civilians and believe that all Afghans – women, men, children and all ethnic groups and religions – have the right to live in safety. We call for all parties to ensure that civilians are protected and not targeted.
Around 95 per cent of Afghan refugees are hosted by neighbouring countries such as Pakistan and Iran. Pakistan alone hosts more than 1.4 million refugees – ten times more than the combined total taken in by the UK, US, Sweden, Australia, Canada, Norway, Italy, Greece, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark, who between them have taken in fewer than 140,000. Richer countries must take their share of responsibility to welcome refugees and asylum seekers who are leaving Afghanistan, as well as halting repatriations of Afghan nationals. The authorities in Afghanistan should allow those who wish to leave the country to do so in safety.
We must create a thriving future for all of Afghanistan’s citizens. Islamic Relief believes that we are all created equal under God, and that men and women have God-given rights. The rights of women and girls must be respected. Girls and women should be able to safely access education beyond primary school, participate in public life and decision-making, be free to work and socialise, and have the same protected rights as men and boys.