‘Liberated’ Afghans: 1 in 3 Food Insecure; 3 in 4 Forced from their Homes

Human Wrongs Watch

The United Nations called on international community to step up its humanitarian support for Afghanistan, while humanitarian agencies have begun distributing winter aid to thousands of Afghan families.  Winter temperatures can fall in Afghanistan to around -26°C.

Vulnerable Afghan families line up to receive winter supplies in Dahsabz, a suburb of Kabul. Photo: UNHCR/S.Murray-Jones

Vulnerable Afghan families line up to receive winter supplies in Dahsabz, a suburb of Kabul. Photo: UNHCR/S.Murray-Jones

“The figures speak for themselves … More than nine million people in Afghanistan – one third of the population – are food insecure; an average of 165 children under the age of five die every day; and an Afghan woman dies every two hours due to pregnancy-related causes,” said on 29 November the Director of Operations of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), John Ging, following a three-day visit to Afghanistan. 

In addition, some 450,000 people have been displaced by conflict and natural disasters, and more than 75 per cent of Afghans have been forced from their homes by conflict at least once in their lives, the UN humanitarian official noted.

Lack of Funds

According to OCHA, the 2012 consolidated humanitarian appeal for Afghanistan remains less than 50 per cent funded, with a shortfall of $234 million at the end of November – making it one of the worst funded appeals in the world.

“This shortfall translates into the unnecessary loss of so many innocent lives as a result of preventable disease and hunger in the midst of such a large and expensive international military presence,” said Ging. “I sincerely hope that the military transition underway will free up desperately needed funding for humanitarian and development programmes.”

Ging also visited a regional hospital in the province of Kandahar, where he spoke to mothers of severely malnourished children receiving therapeutic feeding through the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN World Health Organization (WHO), as well as women activists.

“Once again, reality confounds perception in this country,” Ging said. “So many brave Afghans are fighting for human rights and women’s rights; all they need is modest support from the international community.”


On 30 November, the United Nations refugee agency begun distributing winter aid to some 40,000 families which are at risk in the cold weather in remote areas of Afghanistan, as well as the capital, Kabul.

“Winter temperatures in Afghanistan can fall to around -26°C and for this reason it is important that people are protected from the cold,” a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Melissa Fleming, told a news conference in Geneva.

The agency has primary responsibility for delivering winter assistance to returnees and vulnerable displaced people in rural areas of Afghanistan – a joint effort coordinated by the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation, the National Disaster Management Authority and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Tents, Blankets, Fuel, Lanterns, Kitchen Sets, Soap, Warm Clothes…

Fleming said that the recipients of the winter aid are recent returnees from Pakistan and Iran, internally displaced persons (IDPs) – including people displaced by conflict – and others at risk in the cold weather.

“The relief items going out around the country include tents, blankets, plastic sheets, fuel, sleeping mats, lanterns, jerry cans, kitchen sets, soap and warm clothes,” she stated. “This year, 30,000 of those who will receive winter assistance will be people living in Kabul’s informal settlements.”

Living in Extremely Bad Conditions in isolated Communities

Nearly 460,000 people have been displaced by conflict in Afghanistan, with some 137,000 persons displaced in the south, 121,527 in the west and 95,134 in the east, according to UNHCR.

“Returned refugees and internally displaced people often live in extremely bad conditions in isolated communities – communities rarely seen by the general public and where access is very difficult. Those receiving our aid include really destitute returnees and IDP groups, families headed by women, or elderly or disabled, and children,” Fleming said.

Since 2001, UNHCR has helped around 4.7 million Afghan refugees voluntarily return home. However, nearly three million registered Afghan refugees are still living in exile in Pakistan and Iran.

*Source: UN release.

2012 Human Wrongs Watch

One Comment to “‘Liberated’ Afghans: 1 in 3 Food Insecure; 3 in 4 Forced from their Homes”

  1. As reported in the press, close to US$ 600 billion has been given by the foreign donors; out of which only 15% has been spent within the country and the rest 85% left the borders and invested abroad by those so called local political leaders and war lords. That much insecurity and poverty are the natural results of this corruption.


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