Seventeen concerned principals of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) on the platform of the United Nations are currently battling to rally the world behind the troubled Afghanistan whose citizens are in need of huge humanitarian assistance.
They are appealing to public-spirited individuals and organisations to assist them them meet a total of $1.3 billion required to reach 16 million people with humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan. Out of the amount, only 37 per cent has been received, leaving a shortfall of $800 million.
In a statement, they said ‘’the people of Afghanistan need our support now more than ever. Our organisations are committed to helping and protecting them. We will stay in Afghanistan and we will deliver.’’
Signatories to the statement are: President and Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Sean Callahan; Chief Executive Officer of Concern Worldwide, Dominic MacSorley; Director-General of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Qu Dongyu; Executive Director of International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA), Ignacio Packer; Director-General of World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus; and Chief Executive Officer of InterAction, Samuel Worthington.
Others are, Director General, International Organisation for Migration (IOM), António Vitorino; Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Martin Griffiths; High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Michelle Bachelet; Chair, Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR), Abby Maxman; and Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Cecilia Jimenez-Damary.
The rest include: Administrator of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Achim Steiner; Executive Director of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Natalia Kanem; Executive Director of United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN‐Habitat), Maimunah Mohd Sharif; High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi; Executive Director of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Henrietta H. Fore; and Executive Director of World Food Programme (WFP), David Beasley.
They are calling on donors to remain steadfast in their support for humanitarian operations in Afghanistan and to support resilient livelihoods, pointing out that the humanitarian community reached almost 8 million people in the first half of 2021 with aid. Timely funding saves lives, protects livelihoods, eases suffering and prevents further displacement.
According to them, ‘’at the start of 2021, half the population of Afghanistan – including more than 4 million women and nearly 10 million children – already needed humanitarian assistance. One third of the population was facing crisis and emergency levels of acute food insecurity and more than half of all children under 5 years of age were malnourished.
‘’Those needs have risen sharply because of conflict, drought, and COVID-19. Since the end of May, the number of people internally displaced because of conflict and in need of immediate humanitarian aid more than doubled, reaching 550,000.
‘’We echo the UN Secretary-General’s call for all parties (including the Taliban) to cease all violence and comply with international humanitarian law and human rights. They must allow and facilitate safe, rapid, and unimpeded access for humanitarian workers – both male and female staff – so they can deliver aid to civilians in need wherever they are.
‘’The humanitarian operation will also depend on funding, movement within, to and from Afghanistan, and access to health facilities. The critical role of front-line humanitarian organizations must be supported.
‘’All parties must protect civilians and respect the rights and freedoms of all. Today we reiterate our commitment to promoting the rights of everyone in Afghanistan, including women and girls. Important gains made in recent years – including on gender equality and girls’ access to a quality education – must be preserved.
‘’And much more needs to be done to realize the rights of women and girls. We will continue to engage to make sure this happens. Civilians must also be allowed to seek safety and protection, including the right to seek asylum.
‘’We call on governments to keep borders open to receive Afghan refugees fleeing from violence and persecution and refrain from deportations. This is not the time to abandon the Afghan people. Member States must provide all possible support to Afghan nationals at risk, including a moratorium on repatriations. We urge neighbouring countries to ensure the protection of Afghans displaced across their borders.
‘’The international community has spent decades working with the people of Afghanistan to make progress. Now the international community must continue to support the people of Afghanistan if those gains are not to be reversed. Humanitarian funding must be sustained.
‘’Now, as always, we remain committed to the people of Afghanistan and will do everything possible to stay and provide assistance, especially to the most vulnerable.’’