Norway to increase humanitarian support to Afghanistan

‘Over 18 million people in Afghanistan are currently in need of protection and life-saving assistance. Half of the children under age 5 are on the brink of acute malnutrition. At the High-level Ministerial Meeting on the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan today, Norway is pledging an additional NOK 100 million to support the humanitarian effort in Afghanistan. The total amount of humanitarian funding earmarked for Afghanistan is NOK 261 million so far this year, including support to neighbouring countries receiving Afghan refugees,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.

Ms Eriksen Søreide is representing Norway at the High-level Ministerial Meeting for Afghanistan. The meeting has been convened by UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and is aimed at ensuring adequate protection and life-saving assistance for the people of Afghanistan. The Norwegian support goes to the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

‘Even before the Taliban took power, there was a high level of humanitarian need as a result of armed conflict, drought and the pandemic. It is a matter of urgency to ensure that humanitarian actors have the resources they need to scale up their efforts,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.

The dramatic developments of recent weeks have further exacerbated the situation for already vulnerable groups. Several UN organisations have launched emergency appeals. OCHA estimates that 18.4 million people are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance and protection. This represents a significant increase over the past 18 months.

The number of Afghans who are internally displaced has risen by roughly 570 000 since the start of the year, and this number is expected to reach 750 000 before the year is over. This is in addition to the three million people registered as displaced at the end of 2020. One-third of the population, over 12 million people, are already suffering from hunger and the situation is expected to deteriorate as a result of the ongoing drought. Conditions for children are particularly grave, and half of all children under five years of age are facing acute malnutrition. OCHA estimates that there is a need for an additional USD 606 million in funding to sustain efforts for the rest of this year.

‘Norway is now increasing its humanitarian support. It will be especially important to find solutions to maintain education and health services,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.

The Taliban’s return to power means there is a risk that women will no longer be allowed to work or participate in society. Millions of Afghan families depend on the income of women to survive.

‘It is essential to ensure the participation of women; otherwise, neither the humanitarian response nor the more long-term development efforts will succeed,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.

The additional NOK 100 million has been diverted from long-term development aid to humanitarian assistance.

‘This support will go to partner organisations that operating on the ground in Afghanistan. Humanitarian needs are expected to increase further over the coming months. This is why Norway is helping to ensure that its partners have access to adequate resources to address these needs,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.

Organisations that will receive funding:

UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)

At present, a total of 3.5 million people are internally displaced in Afghanistan and this number is expected to rise. Some 2.2 million Afghans are registered as either displaced persons or refugees in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The UN Refugee Agency carries out a wide range of activities in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries, and will give priority to maintaining a presence in the current unstable situation as well.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

The ICRC is helping to stabilise the provision of basic services for the civilian population, including health services and physical rehabilitation. Efforts to trace missing people and reunite families are also important. Many people have been separated from their families during the past few weeks.

World Food Programme (WFP) – humanitarian airlift operation

The WFP has established an international humanitarian airlift operation to transport aid workers and essential food, health and emergency supplies, as well as carry out medical evacuations.

Unicef

Unicef has a long tradition of working in Afghanistan, including in areas controlled by the Taliban. The support provided to Unicef will primarily be used to protect children, with a special focus on education and psychosocial needs.

The Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund (AHF)

The AHF will target its efforts to areas where the needs are greatest and partner organisations have access. The AHF is also an important channel for providing support to national humanitarian actors.

Facts about Norwegian humanitarian support for Afghanistan

  • So far this year, Norway has allocated NOK 144 million in humanitarian support to Afghanistan. This is in addition to the additional funding announced today.
  • Norway is also providing a total of NOK 17 million to neighbouring countries (Iran and Pakistan) receiving Afghan refugees, channelled through the UN Refugee Agency and the Norwegian Refugee Council
  • Norway’s core support to UN organisations and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement comes in addition to this.
  • The Norwegian Refugee Council, Norwegian Red Cross and Norwegian Church Aid receive funding from Norway for humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan and their agreements provide the flexibility needed to target assistance effectively and increase if necessary.