Over the past year, the people of Afghanistan weathered a series of shocks that compounded pre-existing fragility and led to extreme suffering. At a time when much of the world is experiencing deep and multi-layered crises, battling rising food prices, proliferating conflict and instability, and the lingering effects of the pandemic, we must not allow Afghanistan to fade into the background.
Over 70 per cent of the Afghan population cannot pay for basic food needs; half have no source of income and are reliant on humanitarian assistance. Remittances from overseas workers have dropped by 50 per cent, the health system is collapsing, and religious minorities continue to be attacked in their homes, schools, and places of worship.
Longstanding vulnerabilities to disasters such as the deadly June earthquake in the southeast of the country, and the broader impacts of climate change, have exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in the country. People are suffering, human rights are under pressure, and needs continue to rise.
The movement of people remains a core survival and livelihoods strategy. Afghans continue to travel to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Türkiye, and other destinations. 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.
Afghanistan has also witnessed unprecedented levels of internal displacement. Almost one-third of the 5.8 million individuals currently displaced were forced to leave their homes between January 2021 and April 2022. Internal displacement and movements across borders will continue unabated if the vulnerabilities of those most affected by the crisis are not addressed effectively.
As we continue to advocate for the rights of displaced persons and people on the move, we must increase our investment in durable solutions, for example by providing legal documentation, access to protection and basic services, and continuation of humanitarian aid for the most vulnerable – particularly those who are displaced or returning to their habitual places of residence.
Women and girls have undoubtedly suffered disproportionately, with violations, vulnerabilities and protection concerns on the rise. Their fundamental rights and freedoms are eroding before our eyes, and we must not look away.
Access to education and equal opportunities is the right of all Afghan women and girls. They are essential to the workforce, providing their invaluable contributions as medical staff, educators, and entrepreneurs. Excluding them undermines recovery efforts and sustainable development.
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.
Despite the progress made to date, millions more need our help – today. Less than half of the USD 4.4 billion needed by the UN for humanitarian assistance in 2022 has been funded. IOM’s revised Comprehensive Action Plan (CAP) for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries, targeting support to 3.6 million people, is only 34 per cent funded. Without additional support, the future of communities across the region will remain bleak, as the cold winter months approach.
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.