Right now, 18 million people in Afghanistan need help coping with the conflict and the impacts of drought and the coronavirus pandemic.
The International Red Cross and the Afghan Red Crescent Society are present in Afghanistan and will continue to respond to the immense humanitarian needs. The Finnish Red Cross has supported aid work in Afghanistan over many decades.
Conflicts have hindered the movement of aid personnel and supplies, but the aid work of the Afghan Red Cresent continues across all provinces. As a local operator, the Red Crescent has been able to provide aid in areas out of reach to other actors.
Drought crisis causing food shortages
The drought crisis, further strengthened by climate change, is one of the severest in Afghanistan's history. Millions of people are trying to survive in a situation where agriculture is suffering and water and food are scarce. The coronavirus pandemic and the conflict are further exacerbating the impacts of drought.
In Afghanistan, the majority of people make their living by farming. The Afghan Red Crescent supports people's income, helps with food shortages and prevents the spread of the coronavirus.
The International Red Cross supports the work of the Afghan Red Crescent. The Red Cross has 1,800 employees in Afghanistan offering humanitarian aid and protecting civilians.
The hospitals are working under immense pressure. In July, health centres supported by the Red Cross treated nearly 13,000 people suffering from war wounds. Within six months, the Red Cross has helped over 49,500 patients with war wounds receive treatment.
Furthermore, the Red Cross supports rehabilitation and prostheses services. This year, seven rehabilitation centres in different parts of Afghanistan have offered help to nearly 80,000 people.
The work of 30 years continues
The International Red Cross has helped in Afghanistan since 1987. This work continues.
"There is currently no fighting taking place in Kabul. A conflict in Kabul would have caused great suffering to the city's civilians. It is clear, however, that the humanitarian needs are immense after weeks of fighting. Thousands of people were wounded and damage was sustained by homes and hospitals, among others," describes Eloi Fillion, leader of the International Red Cross aid operation in Afghanistan.
"The International Red Cross is committed to responding to humanitarian needs, and we will not reduce our presence in Afghanistan. We have been working here for 30 years, and the work will continue."
The Red Cross is especially concerned about the well-being of women, children and people with illnesses. Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous places in the world, and women and children make up nearly half of the civilian casualties of the conflict.
For humanitarian aid work to be able to continue, we must ensure its operating conditions and sufficient funding in the new situation as well.
Aid with support from Finland
The Finnish Red Cross has helped in Afghanistan over several decades with support from donors and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.
We have helped the Afghan Red Crescent distribute health information for over 30 years. Information is eternal, it remains in people's minds and is passed forward within the communities. In particular, this information allows women and children to lead healthier lives in the future as well.
Results from 2020--2021:
We support the extensive aid operation of the International Red Cross in Afghanistan with funding from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. The Red Cross e.g. offers care for people wounded in conflicts and promotes the realisation of humanitarian law. During 2021, more than 49,500 patients have received care in the 419 health centres supported by the Red Cross around the country.
We support the coronavirus aid work of the International Red Cross with the help of donors and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. Last year, aid was offered to more than 154,000 people. The Afghan Red Crescent screened 49,000 people for the coronavirus and guided 513 infected to receive health care. More than 104,000 people were informed about the coronavirus. In June 2021, we supported the work of the Afghan Red Crescent by delivering e.g. 48,000 pairs of disposable gloves, 966 face masks and 100 hospital beds.
Last spring, we granted 100,000 euros from the Disaster Relief Fund to relieve distress caused by the drought. We supported the emergency appeal allowing the Afghan Red Crescent to distribute cash grants to 12,000 people.
We carry out long-term development cooperation in Afghanistan with support from donors and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. With help from the International Red Cross, the Afghan Red Crescent has improved the availability of clean water and hygiene in schools. Last year, drinking water and toilets were provided to 13 schools in cooperation with the local health ministry. Accessible toilets, hand washing facilities and drinking water systems made life easier for more than 18,300 pupils and teachers. Furthermore, volunteers screened 2,180 children for malnutrition and guided 60 severely malnourished children to receive treatment.