BUREAU FOR DEMOCRACY, CONFLICT, AND HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE (DCHA)
OFFICE OF U.S. FOREIGN DISASTER ASSISTANCE (OFDA)
Adverse weather conditions, recurrent drought, and seismic activity contribute to frequent natural disasters in Afghanistan. For example, a drought in 2005 affected more than 6.3 million Afghans, and a severe winter emergency in 2008 killed nearly 900 people and 135,000 livestock in Afghanistan's western provinces. In addition, ongoing conflict has perpetuated population displacement and humanitarian needs. The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that at the height of the crisis, more than 8 million people had fled Afghanistan to escape violence or to seek economic opportunities. While noting the inability to accurately determine the total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) due to limited access and sudden and repeated displacements, UNHCR estimated that approximately 270,000 IDPs resided in Afghanistan as of February 2009. The gradual withdrawal of humanitarian organizations from Afghanistan due to heightened insecurity has exacerbated the vulnerabilities of IDPs and strained host community resources. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan's (GIROA) limited capacity to manage disaster risks and displacement has contributed to the country's dependency on the international community for emergency assistance.
On October 20, 2008, U.S. Ambassador William B. Wood declared a disaster due to the effects of armed conflict and natural disasters in Afghanistan. In FY 2008 and to date in FY 2009, USAID/OFDA has provided nearly $25.5 million in humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, bringing total USAID/OFDA assistance since FY 2002 to more than $170 million. Ongoing FY 2008 and FY 2009 USAID/OFDA-funded programs provide emergency relief commodities, livelihoods support, disaster risk reduction (DRR) training, and improvements in shelter and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure to conflict- or disaster-affected individuals in 10 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.
NUMBERS AT A GLANCE
|IDPs in Afghanistan||
|UNHCR - February 2009|
|Refugees in Neighboring Countries||
Approximately 2.6 million
|UNHCR - November 2008|
|Returnees to Afghanistan||
Approximately 5 million(1)
|UNHCR - November 2008|
USAID AND STATE HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE PROVIDED TO DATE IN FY 2009
USAID/OFDA Assistance to Afghanistan: $8,454,193
USAID/FFP(2) Assistance to Afghanistan: $58,800,000
State/PRM(3) Assistance to Afghanistan: $24,436,922
Total USAID and State Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan: $91,691,115
Populations in Afghanistan continue to suffer the effects of natural disasters, chronic displacement, food shortages, and increasing violence in provinces bordering Pakistan. USAID/OFDA's non-governmental organization (NGO) partners express particular concern about ongoing displacement and lack of access in Helmand and Kandahar provinces. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), security conditions in Afghanistan are unlikely to improve in 2009.
In March and April, the USAID/OFDA senior humanitarian advisor visited Ghor Province and Kabul municipality to monitor implementing partner programs.
USAID/OFDA has also worked with other USG staff to improve capacity for identifying and addressing humanitarian needs.
International organizations report that since early 2008, significantly deteriorating security conditions in Afghanistan have caused further displacement and reduced the capability of humanitarian agencies to assess needs, assist vulnerable populations, and monitor assistance. UNHCR estimates that since 2005, up to 50,000 refugee returnees have remained unable to return to areas of origin due to security constraints, and have sought shelter in spontaneous camps in eastern Afghanistan. The Overseas Development Institute reported in April that Afghanistan is second only to Sudan in terms of the number of violent incidents against humanitarian staff, largely perpetrated by armed opposition groups. Increased violence led to a nearly four-fold increase in humanitarian program suspensions in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2008. According to the U.N., approximately 20 percent of Afghanistan's 398 districts remain inaccessible to humanitarian workers due to security concerns.