Helping Afghan refugees through the Tajik winter
The Danish Refugee Council has distributed blankets, heaters, food and clothes to Afghan refugees in Tajikistan helping them survive an particularly severe and harsh winter.
The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) has completed two rounds of distribution of humanitarian aid to Afghan refugees in Tajikistan this winter. Funds from the Foreign Ministry of Germany made it possible to provide blankets, heaters, rice packages and warm clothing for school children ages 7-12 to 550 very vulnerable refugee families in Vahdat, Hissor, Shahrinaw and Rudaki districts, Dushanbe city and the northern Sughd region.
“This year’s winter in Tajikistan has been particularly severe and has especially affected the vulnerable households of refugees. Cold and snow arrived early, temperatures stayed unusually low, and heavy rain and snowfall continued through March. Frequent power cuts have further limited the ability of the population to warm their homes,” says Rexane Rasmussen, DRC Regional Representative in Central Asia.
The winter assistance particularly targeted low or no-income households with many children, disabled or elderly family members in urgent need of assistance. Almost 20 percent of families who received aid are single-headed households.
”My children have received shoes and warm clothing now and can attend school again. I am very relieved,” says 40-year old Bagigul from Vahdat, a single mother of five.
The weather conditions made it hard for the families to keep warm, and it further affected food security as the vulnerable households were forced to spend resources reserved for food staples on purchasing warming devices. The situation was exacerbated by considerable increases in food prices, such as for rice, the main staple of the Afghan refugees’ diet.
Members of refugee community initiative groups, which were facilitated by DRC, have been active partners in conducting household surveys, identifying the most vulnerable families among the refugees, and distributing the items.
“The work of the community initiative groups has been crucial for the proper conduct of the assistance. By going for a participatory approach in our humanitarian assistance, DRC aims to enhance self-help capacities of the refugee communities”, said Rexane Rasmussen.
The majority of asylum seekers and refugees in Tajikistan are from neighbouring Afghanistan. As a result of the precarious security situation in northern Afghanistan, increasing numbers of refugees are seeking refuge in the country. DRC’s work in Tajikistan focuses on improving the protection and livelihoods of refugees and asylum seekers and enhancing the capacity of asylum authorities.