Afghanistan: UN appeal falls short

Donor countries pledged $2.44 billion in donations at  a high-level pledging event on supporting the humanitarian response in Afghanistan yesterday. While world leaders highlighted the seriousness of the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, the donations of $2.44 billion fall short of the needs by around $2 billion. 

The meeting was convened by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, joined by Member State co-hosts including the Governments of Qatar, the United Kingdom and Germany. 

The crisis in Afghanistan 

While Afghanistan has long had persistent humanitarian needs due to years of conflict and recurring drought, the current situation is unparalleled, with more than 24.4 million people requiring humanitarian assistance to survive. Food security levels have plunged at a rate not seen elsewhere in such a short period, with half the population facing acute hunger, including 9 million people in emergency food insecurity – the highest number globally. Malnutrition is on the rise, and livelihoods have been destroyed. 

Guterres in meeting with Amina Mohammed
Secretary-General António Guterres (centre) chairs the meeting “Afghanistan Conference 2022: High-level Pledging Event on Supporting the Humanitarian Response in Afghanistan”. On the left is Deputy-Secretary-General Amina Mohammed.

UN aid agencies describe Afghanistan’s plight as one of the world’s most rapidly growing humanitarian crises. 

According to UN humanitarian coordination office OCHA, half the population now faces acute hunger, over nine million people have been displaced and millions of children are out of school. 

Asked to describe what might happen if sufficient support was not forthcoming, the UN emergency relief chief, Mr. Griffiths, replied that he was particularly concerned for one million children now facing severe acute malnutrition. “A million children – figures are so hard so grasp when they’re this kind of size – but a million children at risk of that kind of malnutrition if these things don’t happen, is a shocking one.” 

“Humanitarian agencies inside Afghanistan can only operate if there’s cash in the economy which can be used to pay officials, salaries, costs, fuel and so-forth,” he said. “So, liquidity in its first phase is a humanitarian issue, it’s not just a bigger economic issue.” 

A $4.4 billion funding appeal 

At the high-level pledging event, UN General-Secretary Guterres said “Our funding appeal for Afghanistan this year is $4.4 billon – the world’s largest appeal for a single country. Together with our partners, we aim to reach 22 million people with food, water, health care, protection, shelter, education and other forms of life-saving aid.” 

In the first eight weeks of 2022, humanitarian partners reached 12.7 million people with life-saving assistance, prioritizing women, girls and minority groups. 

Deliveries have included nutritious food for hundreds of thousands of malnourished children and pregnant and breastfeeding women; healthy meals for schoolchildren; seeds and tools for farmers; and trauma treatment and reproductive healthcare. 

At the pledging event, the UK pledged £286 million, the US $512 million, the EU €113 million and Germany €200 million, among others. 

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