Photo: Sandra Calligaro for Action Against Hunger, Afghanistan
After a brief pause to ensure the safety of our aid workers, Action Against Hunger is gradually resuming our activities in Afghanistan. Since the Taliban captured Kabul and consolidated power in the country on August 15, the rapidly evolving political and security context has disrupted the delivery of humanitarian aid, an alarming development in a country where over half the population – 18 million people – depend on humanitarian assistance to survive.
Afghanistan’s food security situation has deteriorated rapidly since the beginning of the year, a result of severe drought, the COVID-19 pandemic, and mass internal displacement. Nearly half of children under five in the country are suffering from acute malnutrition – a deadly condition that is both preventable and treatable. The United Nations has warned of a looming food crisis in the coming months as supplies run out and winter conditions cut off access to remote communities.
Action Against Hunger has worked in Afghanistan since 1979 and currently implements programs in Helmand, Ghor, Daykundi and Badakhshan provinces. Last year alone, our nutrition and health programs provided care to 52,246 children under five and 13,416 pregnant and breastfeeding women. We also implement water, sanitation and hygiene programs, provide mental health support to mothers and caregivers, and run agricultural projects that help communities generate income and improve long-term food security.
We will continue to work, in accordance with the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality, and independence, as long as the Afghan people need our help and provided the environment is safe for our staff and those who benefit from our programs. We will also continue to stand for the rights of our Afghan female employees, who play an important role in accompanying pregnant and lactating women and ensuring maternity services.
“We are working to get everyone back to work as soon as possible, both women and men,” says Philippe Hamel, Regional Director of Operations in Asia for Action Against Hunger. “People have been suffering from conflict conditions for more than 40 years, in addition to the effects of the climate crisis and the impacts of COVID-19. If the international community turns its back on them now, the humanitarian consequences will be disastrous.”
Action Against Hunger calls on the international community to maintain its commitment to the Afghan people by continuing to support humanitarian response in this time of urgent need, as well as facilitating the safe passage of humanitarian aid and personnel.