‘Afghanistan must not be forgotten’; World Vision welcomes push for ongoing, annual funding as humanitarian crisis worsens

World Vision says a report recommending the Australian Government continue to provide ongoing, multi-year funding for Afghanistan is vital to prevent the worst hunger crisis in the country’s history.

World Vision CEO Daniel Wordsworth said it was important that Afghanistan was not forgotten, and so multi-year funding through effective partners was vital.

“Afghanistan is facing its worst hunger crisis in recorded history,” Daniel said.

“More than 22 million people, or 55 per cent of the population, are facing crisis levels of food insecurity or worse due to a perfect storm of conflict, record food prices and economic collapse.

“Almost half of the Afghan population is below the age of 15, and some 10 million children there need humanitarian assistance to survive,” Daniel said.

The final report on the Senate inquiry into Australia’s Engagement in Afghanistan, has recommended ongoing, targeted, multi-year funding, which may also need to expand in response to increased need in the country.

Last week, world leaders met to address the crisis at a global pledging conference where the Australian Government committed an extra $40 million, bringing their total commitment to $140 million.

World Vision is advocating the Government commit $100 million each year in humanitarian assistance, including at least $30 million as a food security package to be channelled directly via frontline responders in Afghanistan to address crisis levels of hunger.

World Vision continues to provide life-saving cash assistance as well as early livelihood recovery options which enable families to produce food for themselves while earning some income from surplus produce.

“Life-saving assistance is the essential first step, but it also needs to be linked to support to the economy and stabilisation of basic services,” Daniel said.

“Need in the world generally has increased dramatically in the past six months, but particularly in Afghanistan. To put it plainly – children are dying from starvation. The rights and needs of children, including their protection, education, health and nutrition and food security, must be central to funding strategies,” he said.

Daniel agreed funding should be provided through the most effective channels, including NGOs who were already on the ground doing the work and had years of experience navigating these issues.

“We are working with local communities themselves, with whom we’ve built relationships over two decades,” Daniel said.

“Together we must ensure humanitarian pledges by governments reach those most in need, especially children. Working with NGOs that already have local partners addressing the urgent food, water and other humanitarian needs of children in the country is imperative.”

The current Ukraine conflict will only exacerbate the crisis in Afghanistan, as wheat prices and other living costs skyrocket, with global ramifications.

“Preventing long-term mass suffering in Afghanistan will require tough political decisions to be made. Without urgent action to stabilise Afghanistan’s financial system and wider economy, humanitarian needs will only grow,” he said.

“The international donor community needs to come together to agree on a coherent roadmap to safeguard past investments and prevent the further collapse of critical Afghan state structures, services, and financial institutions.

“More than 24 million people are currently in humanitarian need – more than half the population. Years of compounded crises have resulted in soaring numbers of people needing lifesaving humanitarian assistance,” Daniel said.

World Vision is also advocating that humanitarian support is focused on children and girls – especially in the health and education sectors.

“Life-saving assistance is the essential first step, but it also needs to be linked to support to the economy and stabilisation of basic services,” Daniel said.

Last week World Vision also praised the Australian Government’s decision to offer 16,500 humanitarian visas to refugees fleeing the country as part of the federal budget.

To read World Vision Australia’s submission to the Senate inquiry on Afghanistan, click here.

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