Speech by the Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, Mr. Mark Bowden - Launch of the Common Humanitarian Action Plan, Kabul, Afghanistan, 12.02.14
As humanitarian coordinator, I am here today to bring to your attention the continuing humanitarian needs in Afghanistan and to announce that USD $406 million is required by the UN and its humanitarian partners to meet the most acute needs this year.
Last year, significant achievements were made: For example, food security assistance was delivered to 2.2 million Afghans, shelter and non‐food items were provided to more than 140,000 displaced, while 570,000 people received emergency water, sanitation and hygiene.
Despite more than a decade of international and government development efforts, from a humanitarian perspective Afghanistan remains a protracted complex emergency where five million people need lifesaving assistance. This does not include the many more millions who are suffering the effects of chronic poverty.
Sadly, the conflict continues to be the predominant driver of humanitarian needs. It causes disruption of services, displacement and injury to civilians across the country. 630,000 Afghans are internally displaced by conflict. At the same time, natural disasters hit the country on an annual basis, including floods, drought, avalanches and earthquakes.
At the start of 2014, Afghanistan faces an uncertain future, where the political and security transitions are bound to bring about major changes to the country and its people.
On the humanitarian side, we expect the situation to remain largely unchanged, with possible spikes around elections. The humanitarian community is prepared for this, and we are not sounding the alarm bells. Afghanistan is a protracted crisis, not a sudden onset one.
My main message today is that humanitarian funding and response must remain robust in light of the significant needs. Otherwise, Afghanistan could become a forgotten emergency, as international attention moves on to other pressing crises such as Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, to name a few.
In 2014, I appeal to donors to maintain a similar level of humanitarian funding as in 2013, when $384 million was received in support of the Common Humanitarian Action Plan.
Humanitarian actors face an exceptionally challenging working environment. In fact,
Afghanistan is the most dangerous country in the world for aid workers, and last year 2,600 security incidents involving humanitarian workers were recorded.
Humanitarians are prepared to accept a certain level of risk, but the parties to conflict must also respect their right to deliver impartial and independent assistance, including in the contested areas. This respect is not fully demonstrated, as exemplified by the appalling attack on ICRC in Jalalabad in June last year.
As humanitarians, we are prepared to stay and deliver, but there is a quid pro quo. Without adequate security assurances from the armed opposition, and robust funding to back up critical, life‐saving programs, a point will come where our essential partners on the NGO side will pack up and go. Equally important in this regard, is continued cooperation of our host, the Government of Afghanistan, to ease the bureaucratic hurdles to NGO operating in country.
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.