Severe flooding in Afghanistan escalates humanitarian needs

A group of people, including some from the Afghan Red Crescent Society, gather near two vehicles in a muddy street, affected by floods

A group of people, including some from the Afghan Red Crescent Society, gather near two vehicles in a muddy street, affected by floods

Photo: Afghan Red Crescent Society

Kabul/Kuala Lumpur/Geneva

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is scaling up an emergency response to deal with the latest series of deadly floods in Afghanistan which have exacerbated an already dire humanitarian situation.  

Unusually heavy spring rains and floods have killed hundreds and destroyed thousands of homes and livestock. Over half of Afghanistan, 25 out of 34 provinces, has been affected, with Baghlan province alone suffering over 200 fatalities so far. Thousands of displaced people have no homes to return to after their houses were swept away. 

Volunteers of the ARCS were among the first responders on the scene, supporting rescue efforts, bringing men, women and children to safer locations. They’ve also been providing hot meals and sleeping items to those fleeing the deluge. The IFRC, working hand in hand with the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS), has mobilized additional relief goods from the capital.  

The Afghan Red Crescent is scaling up its effort to ensure cooked meals and temporary shelter for those displaced, emergency health services, and other forms of assistance. 

This latest disaster is happening within the context of what is already one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, where communities are already barely able to cope. 

The level of suffering in Afghanistan is already beyond words. Our emergency response will focus on life-saving essential needs, while also gearing to support affected households in early recovery as well as equipping first responders to cope better with rapid onset disasters in the future”, said Necephor Mghendi, Head of the IFRC Country Delegation.  

“This new disaster is piling yet more pressure on a country already battered”. 

  Mawlawi Mutiul Haq Khales, the Acting President of Afghan Red Crescent Society, added:  

 “Our volunteers were the first on the scene and have excellent knowledge of the area and needs. Our focus is now on making sure we can act as fast as possible to support the victims, bearing in mind the scale of the floods across the country and that there may yet be worse to come. Many of those affected are extremely poor and will be waiting and looking toward our support”. 

International support is urgently needed to scale up this response. On 4 May, the IFRC allocated 750,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF) for the initial response. However, the DREF-financed operation covers only 11 provinces of the 25 affected provinces, excluding Baghlan, and much more needs to be done. 

In coordination with the ARCS and other partners of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the IFRC has dispatched multi-sector teams to the hardest-hit areas for relief aid and rapid assessments. These teams are also focused on delivering emergency health services, distributing food and non-food items and establishing temporary shelters. 

The rains followed an uncharacteristically late winter and cold wave and have significantly impacted lives and livelihoods – particularly the agriculture and livestock sectors.  

The IFRC response to the floods will not only focus on immediate relief efforts but also support recovery operations across the impacted regions. This includes providing emergency shelter, healthcare, water, hygiene, and sanitation support, and supporting people to rebuild as well as restore their livelihoods. 

The floods are yet another reminder that the international community needs to have a radical rethink about its approach to Afghanistan by tackling the root causes of vulnerabilities. This includes investing in strengthening early warning systems, capacity building, and programmes that can spur economic regeneration so that communities can respond better to future similar shocks with resources available locally,” Necephor Mghendi added.  

The IFRC has launched an Emergency Appeal for 5 million Swiss francs to fund critical interventions and to scale up the ARCS's ability to assist affected populations. The appeal also supports the foundation for programmes to address long-term recovery and resilience, considering that the scale and frequency of climate-related events will increase. 

More information 

To request an interview, please contact: [email protected]  

In Kuala Lumpur: 

Afrhill Rances: +60 19 271 3641 

In Geneva:  

Tommaso Della Longa: +41 79 708 43 67  

Andrew Thomas: +41 763676587 


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