Forty years of conflict continue to affect Afghanistan. Between January and September 2018, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has documented 2,798 civilian deaths - the deadliest nine months since 2014.
The UN-led humanitarian infrastructure continues to respond to emergencies across the country, despite being affected by poor funding. By the end of 2018, the Humanitarian Response Plan was 77 per cent funded.
Generations of Afghans have grown up in exile in neighbouring Pakistan and Iran. Each year, hundreds of thousands return. More than 1.2 million Afghans are internally displaced. Almost 1,000 people were displaced every day in 2018 due to the conflict.
In addition to conflict, disasters like earthquakes, floods and drought force many to flee their homes. Approximately 225,000 people are thought to have been displaced due to the recent drought.
A deteriorating security crisis and slow economic growth has resulted in widespread poverty with around 55 per cent of the population living below the national poverty line. This is an increase of 5 million people living in poverty since 2012/13.
- 1978-1989: Marxist revolution, Soviet invasion and occupation
- 1989-1992: First civil war
- 1992-1996: Second civil war
- 1996-2001: Taliban takeover and third civil war
- 2002-present: War with international invasion and occupation
People we helped in Afghanistan in 2017
NRC Afghanistan assists internally displaced Afghans and Pakistani refugees. Our priorities are twofold. In the aftermath of violence and disaster, we give immediate, emergency assistance. Where the effects of long-term displacement have taken hold, we work to find lasting solutions.
Our regional and cross-border programmes address and relieve the effects of the conflict, as do our emergency teams. We place significant importance on helping displaced people in hard-to-access areas and the empowerment of women.
NRC uses Camp Management approaches to enhance communication with communities, community participation, and support to inclusive coordination in both urban non-camp environments and within informal settlements and spontaneous self-settled camps. Our Camp Management teams:
- Establish and run community centres and outreach information sessions where displaced Afghans can access information about services and be referred for assistance;
- Establish and support neighbourhood/ settlement/ camp committees who disseminate information and solve problems in their communities;
- Support local coordination mechanisms, including through facilitation of meetings between relevant stakeholders to address needs and gaps;
- Monitor protection issues, threats, and hazards in sites and neighbourhoods, and report these to relevant agencies and fora.
NRC Afghanistan specialises in Education in Emergencies (EiE), for school age children into protection and safe learning environments with enrolling to nearest government schools and providing Alternative Education (AE). Our teams:
- Increase accessibility to schools in rural areas transitioning into city suburbs;
- Train teachers and informal instructors;
- Help marginalized out-of-school children to catch up through accelerated and formal integration classes, bridging programme including language and literacy classes;
- Work with the Ministry of Education to increase the capacity of the Afghan government to respond to the urgent educational needs of displaced children, as well as those returned from neighbour countries with constructing new schools and providing rehabilitation through school improvement plan.
Information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA)
ICLA provides information and legal advice to displaced Afghans on a wide range of legal matters within two thematic areas: 1) housing, land and property (HLP); and 2) legal identity, including civil documentation (LCD).
Our ICLA staff:
- Visit communities to conduct information sessions;
- Outline tailored instructions on how displaced people can claim their rights through tailored one-on-one legal counselling;
- Provide direct legal assistance through the formal justice and administrative system to support people claim and exercise their rights;
- Use traditional dispute resolution mechanisms to resolve legal disputes, housing, land and property rights cases;
- Provide information and follow up referrals to help people access essential services and support in complex protection cases;
- Conduct research and assessments to better understand displaced people’s HLP and LCD challenges;
- Advocate for displaced people’s HLP and property rights as the co-lead of the HLP Task Force.
Livelihoods and food security
Chronic food insecurity and lack of livelihood opportunities are major challenges across Afghanistan: in 2017, over 3.2 million people were estimated to be in need of food assistance and more than one in three people of working age were either unemployed or underemployed1. Our teams:
- Help people start small businesses through business skill mentoring programmes and start-up grants – focusing on women and youth;
- Partner with private businesses to deliver demand-driven, high quality vocational skills training courses;
- Support private companies to expand their businesses to generate employment;
- Help connect households to markets, for instance, by supporting them to produce raw materials and agricultural products that are in demand;
- Establish communal gardens in schools and community centres;
- Provide cash so that vulnerable households and children can buy food.
In addition, a key focus for the LFS Core Competency this trimester was the response to the ongoing drought crisis, focusing on the western region, building on the response provided last trimester. Following on the emergency cash-for-food assistance provided to 21,200 drought IDPs in Herat in the previous trimester, NRC expanded its emergency food assistance to Badghis Province, and provided cash-for-food to 48,000 drought IDPs in Qala-e-Naw (Badghis province capital), followed by in-kind food to 10,000 IDPs.
Shelter and settlements
Due to drought, conflict, and poor economic, many Afghans live in inadequate and partially damage housing, improperly protected from violence and natural hazards. Our shelter teams work side-by-side with our WASH experts as they carry out many of their projects. Our shelter teams:
- Support the construction of one- and two-room shelters for families with a community-driven approach;
- Build schools as well as additional classrooms for existing schools and provide temporary classrooms;
- Collaborate with the community to construct shelters through a cash-based programme, providing cash assistance in exchange for constructing shelters;
- Advocate for shelters to be built to better endure natural hazards;
- Upgrade shelter to better withstand natural hazards and climate;
- Provide temporary cash assistance to cover basic rent for the most vulnerable;
- Provide sealing off kits to families with damaged or poor-quality shelters.
- Provide cash-for-rent to cover their basic need for accommodation and pathway to transitional solution.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) promotion
Water, sanitation and hygiene practices are not the norm in many parts of Afghanistan, largely due to the lack of infrastructure and behaviour. In many of our WASH activities, our WASH experts work closely with our shelter teams. Our WASH teams:
- Provide emergency water supply and sanitation facilities and supporting good hygiene practices for humanitarian crisis affected vulnerable populations;
- Construct households improved latrines and access to safe water through community water points;
- Provide safe drinking water points, access to improved sanitation, and hand washing facilities in schools;
- Distribute hygiene kits and train families on how to use the hygiene kits through hygiene education promotion in communities and schools.
Women in particular face many barriers in Afghanistan. Our teams integrate gender considerations in our programming:
- NRC is the only organisation in Afghanistan to work for the widespread acceptance of women's HLP rights;
- Our all-female shelter team reaches female-headed households and widows – the most vulnerable part of the population we serve;
- Protection mainstreaming, psychological first aid, and basic gender-based violence (GBV) trainings are provided for non- protection field staff country-wide in order to enhance understanding of protection principles and practices and be better able to make safe and relevant referrals of sensitive cases;
- NRC reflected gender-related focus in its new three-year Protection Strategy with a commitment to enhance understanding on impact of displacement on gender dynamics with the ultimate aim of developing context-specific initiatives aimed at reducing exposure of women and girls to protection threats caused by displacement.
- Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA)
- Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)
- Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad)
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – Common Humanitarian Fund (OCHA CHF)
- START Fund
- Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO)
- Danida, Denmark’s development cooperation
- Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- PATRIP Foundation
- Department for International Development UK (DfID)
- Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
- The United States Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM)
- International Organisation for Migration (IOM)
- KfW Bank
- The World Food Programme (WFP)
About NRC in Afghanistan
Deadly flooding displaces thousands in Afghanistan
More than 32 people have been killed and thousands of people are displaced as homes and buildings have been swept away by flooding across Afghanistan.
Death from above: Afghanistan’s increasingly deadly skies
3,804 civilians were killed and 7,189 injured last year as a result of the ongoing fighting between armed groups in Afghanistan. “Amid talks of potential ceasefire these devastating statistics show that the conflict in Afghanistan is only getting worse,” said Jan Egeland, Secretary General for the Norwegian Refugee Council, who recently visited the conflict stricken country.
Afghanistan: Record numbers of casualties amid peace talks
The first weeks of 2019 have seen large numbers of civilians displaced by intensified conflict across the Afghan countryside. “Whilst international attention is focused on very welcome peace talks, I have in recent days met countless Afghan women, men and children who have fled air raids, cross-fire and military offensives in Central and Southern Afghanistan,” said Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council who is currently visiting the country. “Many recent casualties in the Afghan war are in hard-to-reach areas where the few humanitarian groups are overwhelmed by the needs.”