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Afghanistan plunged into greater chaos as thousands face displacement, poverty and COVID-19

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The situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate, with decades of political and civil unrest, drought and economic instability leaving a devastating toll that has been further exacerbated by the withdrawal of US troops from the country.

Since the withdrawal, twin suicide bombings and a rocket attack have transpired at Kabul’s international airport, killing at least 169 Afghans and 13 US military personnel. Amidst the fear and pandemonium caused by these recent events, a US drone strike aimed at terrorist militants has also killed 10 civilians, adding to tensions in the country.

While evacuations out of Kabul have ended, the humanitarian crisis is far from over. Thousands of families, especially women and girls who face disproportionate risks to their health, safety and wellbeing, are at increased risk of becoming homeless. This is in addition to over 3.5 million Afghans already uprooted from their homes due to insecurity in the last years.

“It is vital for the Australian Government to respond with compassion to this unfolding humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan,” says Kirsty Robertson, CEO of Caritas Australia.

The country has also been struggling to cope under the pressure of prolonged drought and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, over 47 per cent of the population was living below the national poverty line.

"The impacts of COVID-19, prolonged conflict and drought means that hundreds of thousands of people are now facing an uncertain future, where they may not have access to shelter, food, clean water, health care or sanitation for a prolonged period of time." Kirsty Robertson, CEO of Caritas Australia

Neighbouring countries, Iran and Pakistan, host more than two million Afghan refugees in total - nearly 90 per cent of displaced Afghans, however neither country is able to handle the increased need.

“If Canada has already committed to 20,000 additional places for Afghan refugees, we could match this to show the international community that we will help alleviate the pressures on Iran and Pakistan to respond to this humanitarian crisis,” says Ms Robertson.

“We also need to extend the temporary visas of all Afghan citizens in Australia, extend permanent protection to any Afghans on temporary protection visas, and support family reunion applications for Afghan Australians.”

Over the last years, Caritas Australia, in partnership with Catholic Relief Services, has been able to support vulnerable communities in Afghanistan suffering the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis and severe droughts which imposed risks to their lives and livelihoods.” Melville Fernandez, Humanitarian and Emergencies Group Manager at Caritas Australia

“It is imperative that aid and development workers are able to ensure the safety of the Afghan people and the provision of basic needs”.

Caritas Australia is providing support to the Caritas network in response to the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan through our Asia Regional Appeal. Donate today to provide aid and relief to humanitarian crises, like the one currently unfolding in Afghanistan.