Nearly six months on from the chaotic scenes in Kabul, and with over 15,000 newly arrived Afghans supported in the UK, the British Red Cross has thanked the public for donating almost £7 million to their appeal.
Maryann Horne, Senior Adviser for the charity, has recently returned from the country. She warned, “talking to people there, you’re struck by the feelings of sheer desperation. This winter is like no other with hundreds of families flocking to the towns and sleeping on the streets.
“A perfect storm hangs over Afghanistan. There’s no money in the country, but also no way to support even the most vulnerable at a time people are facing the worse drought, winter and crisis in decades.”
Since the British Red Cross launched their appeal on Monday 16 August, people from across the whole of the UK have donated a total of £6.95 million.
This money is being urgently channelled to the most in need. This includes:
3,000 tonnes of food relief – enough for 210,000 people in the coming months. 24,500 people have already received emergency food aid.
5,000 hygiene kits, 3,500 kits containing household items, and 3,500 winter survival kits, including coats shoes and blankets, were distributed in December.
Livelihoods assessments took place in November-December to target the most vulnerable households. A major operation to support the livelihoods of 280,000 people will begin in the coming months.
With over 30 years of experience in Afghanistan and a network of staff and 40,000 volunteers on the ground, the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement is providing humanitarian support through the multiple crises Afghanistan is facing right now.
The Afghan Red Crescent has some 140 health teams, 70 of them mobile, providing primary healthcare such as routine immunisations in areas other agencies are unable to reach. These regions are among the most isolated and most affected by the drought. In 2021 the organisation reached around 1 million Afghans with a range of services.
Of the deteriorating situation in country, Maryann Horne said:
"I've sat with women who are clutching their babies who are in the early stages of malnutrition. They are hopeless, afraid and have no support apart from our teams who have scaled up their distributions and operations in every single province of the country.
“Likewise, I've been struck by the resilience of people. Those midwives and doctors I spoke to have, like so many in their profession, not been paid in months and have not missed a single day at work out of a sense of duty.
“These people give me hope but we cannot rely on their dedication alone. They need our help and they need it now. Your support could literally save children and their parents from the agony of starvation.”
Afghanistan is in the grip of a major economic crisis, with up to 80 per cent of public salaries unpaid for six months. The crisis is also driven by years of prolonged drought with an estimated 22.8 million people – 55 percent of the country’s population – in need of urgent help. The crisis is expected to worsen as the winter progresses.
Note to editors
Red Cross work in Afghanistan The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is working on the ground across all 34 provinces in Afghanistan, reaching the people who need us most. We run over 140 health centres and clinics, including 70 mobile health teams who cover the entire country. This life-saving medical support has become even more critical now, after weeks of heavy fighting has left thousands injured and hospitals damaged, in a region devastated by extreme drought and flash flooding.
Our Covid-19 hospital in Kabul has also treated thousands of patients and remains operational as virus cases spiral. Our teams are distributing essential items, like food, water and cash to families.
With our network of staff and 40,000 volunteers on the ground, the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement is ready to give people humanitarian support through the multiple crises they’re facing right now.
Supporting arrivals in the UK
The British Red Cross has supported over 15,000 people who have been evacuated from Afghanistan. Since August, staff and volunteers have been welcoming families at airports and supporting people in hotels, with essential items like clothing, blankets and baby milk, SIM cards, and helping people access medical care. The charity continues to support large number of families still in temporary accommodation across the UK.
Profile – Maryann Horne, Senior Adviser for humanitarian crises at the British Red Cross
Maryann Horne is recently back from a mission in Kabul as part of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, working closely with the Afghan Red Crescent and International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.
She returned to Afghanistan in November 2021 after working there for three years with displaced and refugee populations.
Maryann is a humanitarian and conflict advisor with 20 years + field experience. Specialised in emergency and disaster operations, principled humanitarian action, access and protection. Track record of humanitarian operations in conflict and working with a large range of international and local actors.
An Afghanistan appeal launched on 15 December via the Disaster Emergencies Committee – a collection of 15 leading aid charities – has raised £34.2 million.
A total of £2.85 million has been allocated to the British Red Cross with £1.68 million to be spent targeting 126,000 individuals in six provinces before 30 June 2022.
The British Red Cross appeal total of £6.95 million includes this DEC allocation.
British Red Cross
For over 150 years, the British Red Cross has helped people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies. We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them recover and move on with their lives. redcross.org.uk