Afghanistan

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13/09/2022 | Press release

Crisis fatigue not an option as global hunger crisis deepens, the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement warns

Geneva, 13 September 2022 (ICRC/IFRC) – The warning lights are flashing on high: armed conflict, climate-related emergencies, economic hardship and political obstacles are leading to a growing wave of hunger in countries around the world. The misery for millions will deepen without immediate urgent action. Systems-level improvements must be made to escape a cycle of recurrent crises, including investments in climate-smart food production in conflict-affected areas, and reliable mechanisms to support hard-to-reach communities hit by food shortages and skyrocketing prices, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said ahead of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly. The international armed conflict in Ukraine has greatly disrupted global food supply systems as well as future harvests in many countries due to the impact it’s having on the availability of fertilizer. The importance of more shipments by the Black Sea grain initiative reaching vulnerable populations in East Africa cannot be overstated. Too few grain shipments are getting to where they are needed. As hunger emergencies hit the headlines, the risk of crisis fatigue is high. Yet what’s uniquely frightening about this moment is the breadth and depth of the needs. More than 140 million people face acute food insecurity due to conflict and instability, even as climate change and economic precarity indicate that hunger needs will rise in the coming months. Political will and resources are needed now. Without them, many lives will be lost, and the suffering will endure for years. An emergency response alone will not end these hunger crises. Concerted action and long-term approaches are the only way to break the cycle. While addressing urgent needs, it is essential to set the foundation for resilience. More efforts must be made — by governments, private sectors, and humanitarian and development groups — to support long-term food security, livelihoods, and resilience plans. Measures must include investments in strengthening grassroots food systems and community actors to sustainably achieve food and economic security. One of the approaches to consider is anticipatory action for food security, based on forecasts and risk analysis. Francesco Rocca, President of the IFRC, said: “Two dozen countries across Africa are grappling with the worst food crisis in decades. Some 22 million people in the Horn of Africa are in the clutches of starvation due to such compounding crises as drought, flooding, COVID-19’s economic effects, conflict – even desert locusts. Behind the staggeringly high numbers are real people – men, women and children battling death-level hunger every day. The situation is expected to deteriorate into 2023. However, with swift action, many lives can be saved. We need urgent and massive action to scale up life-saving assistance to millions of people in dire need of aid, but also to decisively address the root causes of this crisis through longer term commitments.” The IFRC and its membership—which consists of Red Cross and Red Crescent teams in nearly every corner of the globe—are delivering aid in hard-to-reach communities. Assistance includes getting cash into the hands of families to meet food, health and other urgent needs. In Nigeria, Red Cross volunteers focus on pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, whose nutrition is paramount for healthy births and childhoods. In Madagascar, volunteers restore land and water sources through anti-erosion activities, the construction of water points, and a focus on irrigation in addition to traditional ways to fight hunger, like nutrition monitoring. Peter Maurer, President of the ICRC, said: “Conflict is a huge driver of hunger. We see violence preventing farmers from planting and harvesting. We see sanctions and blockades preventing food delivery to the most vulnerable. My wish is that we build resiliency into the fabric of humanitarian response, so that communities suffer less when violence and climate change upend lives. A cycle of band-aid solutions will not be enough in coming years.” The ICRC this year has helped nearly 1 million people in south and central Somalia buy a month’s worth of food by distributing cash to more than 150,000 households. A similar programme in Nigeria helped 675,000 people, while more than a quarter million people received climate smart agriculture inputs to restore crop production. The ICRC works to strengthen resilience through seeds, tools and livestock care so that residents can better absorb recurrent shocks. And its medical professionals are running stabilization centres in places like Somalia, where kids are getting specialized nutrition care. Communities around the world are suffering deep hardship. A short snapshot of some of the regions in need includes: In Sub-Saharan Africa: One in three children under the age of five is stunted by chronic undernutrition, while two out of five women of childbearing age are anaemic because of poor diets. The majority of people in sub-Saharan Africa live on less than $1.90 a day. In Afghanistan: The combination of three decades of armed conflict and an economic crash resulting in few job opportunities and a massive banking crisis are having a devastating effect on Afghan families’ ability to buy food. More than half the country – 24 million – need assistance. The International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement welcomes any measure aimed at easing the effect of economic sanctions. But given the depth of the humanitarian crisis, long-term solutions are also needed, including the resumption of projects and investments by states and development agencies in key infrastructure. In Pakistan: The recent flooding has led to an estimated $12 billion in losses. Food security in the country was alarming before this latest catastrophe, with 43 percent of the population food insecure. Now the number of acutely hungry people is expected to rise substantially. Some 78,000 square kilometers (21 million acres) of crops are under water. An estimated 65 percent of the country’s food basket – crops like rice and wheat– have been destroyed, with over 733,000 livestock reportedly killed. The floods will also negatively affect food delivery into neighboring Afghanistan. In Somalia: We have seen a five-fold increase in the number of malnourished children needing care. Last month the Bay Regional Hospital in Baidoa admitted 466 children, up from 82 in August 2021. Children admitted here die without the specialized nutritional care they receive. In Syria: Food insecurity rates have risen more than 50 percent since 2019. Today, two-thirds of Syria’s population –12.4 million out of 18 million – can’t meet their daily food needs. The compounding effects of more than a decade of conflict, including the consequences of sanctions, have crippled people’s buying power. Food prices have risen five-fold in the last two years. In Yemen: Most Yemenis survive on one meal a day. Last year 53 percent of Yemen’s population were food insecure. This year it’s 63 percent – or some 19 million people. Aid actors have been forced to cut food assistance due to a lack of funds. Some 5 million people will now receive less than 50 percent of their daily nutritional requirement because of it. Notes to editors For more information, please contact: IFRC:Tommaso Della Longa, [email protected], +41 79 708 43 67 IFRC: Jenelle Eli, [email protected], +41 79 935 97 40 ICRC:Crystal Wells, [email protected], +41 79 642 80 56 ICRC: Jason Straziuso, [email protected], +41 79 949 35 12 Audio-visuals available: Horn of Africa photos and b-roll Pakistan floods photos and b-roll Somalia cash programme photos and b-roll Kenya sees climate shocks b-roll

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15/08/2022 | Press release

Afghanistan: Unending crises driving millions to breaking point

Kuala Lumpur/Kabul/Geneva 15 August – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is renewing its call for increased global solidarity with the people of Afghanistan who continue to face immense humanitarian need. Simultaneous crises in the country have caused some of the worst suffering in recent generations. A cocktail of disasters and crises has battered the country for more than a year now, with new shocks worsening conditions that were already dire. In late June, an earthquake struck south-East Afghanistan killing more than 1,000 people and destroying or damaging homes of 60,000 households leaving them exposed to the elements. Starting July into August, off-season rains brought floods that washed away livelihoods and aggravated humanitarian needs across more than 20 provinces. Mawlawi Mutiul Haq Khales, Afghan Red Crescent Acting President, said: "The past 12 months have been extremely difficult for our people as economic hardship, exacerbated by sanctions-related limitations to access income, piles pressure on millions who were already battling acute food insecurity, poverty, and many other shocks. "We, in Afghan Red Crescent, have scaled up our response operation in every province and our extensive network of volunteers continues to deliver assistance which is really a lifeline particularly to those excluded even from the most basic support, especially widows and their children. "Contributions from our local and international partners have been critical, and we are truly grateful. We are asking for continued support because millions of our people will rely on long term humanitarian interventions to meet their very basic needs." With the support of the IFRC and other partners, the Afghan Red Crescent response operation has so far reached more than 150,000 households with food assistance and at least 15,000 households with cash distributions. Its more than 140 health facilities, among them mobile health teams, also continue to provide primary health services including routine immunizations across Afghanistan. Humanitarian assistance needs to be sustained. Necephor Mghendi, IFRC's Head of Delegation for Afghanistan, said: "The people of Afghanistan cannot be forgotten. This is now one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, with over 20 million people remaining in need of urgent assistance." "As the world's largest humanitarian network, we are responding in many ways to help aid vulnerable communities. IFRC continues to support the Afghan Red Crescent in its humanitarian efforts, but the succession of crises and disasters is driving millions to breaking point, resulting in a massive humanitarian need that is putting immense strain on the availability of resources. "Winter is coming, and we are worried that lives could be lost if we do not act early enough to alleviate conditions for people whose coping capacities are weakened by multiple shocks." The IFRC and Afghan Red Crescent are ramping up preparedness for a potentially harsh winter, which will be upon the country in a few months. The greatest concern is high-altitude areas where temperatures are very likely to drop below minus-10 degrees. Procurement of winter clothing, winter boots, thermal blankets, heating stoves and other essentials is underway in readiness. To support the Afghan Red Crescent, the IFRC has appealed to the international community for 90 million Swiss francs to deliver urgent humanitarian aid to more than 1 million people affected by multiple crises. Winter preparedness forms a critical part of the plan. To arrange an interview, get access to audio-visuals, or for more information, contact: Asia Pacific Office: Rachel Punitha, +60-197-913-830, [email protected] Asia Pacific Office: Joe Cropp, +61 491 743 089, [email protected]

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13/09/2021 | Speech

Statement on the High-level Ministerial Meeting on the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan

Excellencies, Distinguished Representatives, Ladies and Gentlemen, It is an honour to address you on behalf of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and our member National Society, the Afghan Red Crescent. I give this in complementarity to ICRC’s President, Peter Maurer’s earlier statement. As current events in Afghanistan unfold, the Afghan Red Crescent continues to carry out critical humanitarian work through its network of 34 provincial branches, 2,000 staff and more than 30,000 trained volunteers. The Afghan Red Crescent and the IFRC’s staff have been there through it all and are always there to fulfil our humanitarian mandate. We had no option to leave. We continue to deliver. The IFRC has been in Afghanistan for more than 30 years uninterrupted. We have worked with the Afghan Red Crescent throughout this time in their institutional development, in bringing much needed humanitarian supplies, in bringing the community voices to the global stage and in providing leadership in coordination. We will remain by their side, for as long as we are needed. Last week we launched arevised Emergency Appealfor 36 million Swiss Francs to ramp up support to the work of the Afghan Red Crescent in meeting the needs of those affected by one of the country’s worst ever droughts, acute food shortages, a fractured health system, displacement as well as the devastating impact of COVID-19. We have also provided support to the neighbouring countries’ National Red Crescent Societies, and we will need an additional 15 million Swiss francs to continue to do so. Ladies and Gentlemen, I have three messages for you to consider, and act upon: We must work together to ensure that humanitarian corridors are kept open.This may include making exceptions to sanctions, which allow for medical and urgent humanitarian supply chains. Now is the time to ensure that there are no bureaucratic obstacles to committing humanitarian aid. In return, we will ensure that support is provided to the most vulnerable, to enable locally managed and delivered aid, in line with our fundamental principles. Now is the time to support local action, empower strong local organizations and make good on your localization commitments in the Grand Bargain.The Afghan Red Crescent has unique access to people in need - recognized for its neutrality, impartiality and independence. Its’ Afghan staff and volunteers work every day in every province of Afghanistan, with direct access to support communities with ongoing relief and health services. Now is not the time to ignore Afghanistan; it is vital that we look to the future and support the people of Afghanistan as they work hard to heal and recover. I thank you.

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22/06/2022 | Press release

Deadly earthquake hits crises-riddled Afghanistan

The Afghan Red Crescent, together with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), has mobilised to support communities affected by a deadly 5.9 magnitude earthquake which struck the south-East region of Afghanistan early morning Wednesday 22 June. Based on initial reports, at least 1000 people have been killed, with the number of casualties expected to increase as rescuers reach hardest-hit villages where people remain trapped in rubble. Remote districts in the provinces of Khost and Paktika have been most affected. Afghan Red Crescent staff and volunteers from affected communities were among the first responders working alongside local authorities and other humanitarian organisations. Additional teams have been deployed from Kabul and neighbouring provinces to boost the speed of assistance. Furthermore, food supplies, non-food items and medicines that were in stock have been redirected to areas hardest hit by the quake to address immediate needs. Dr Mohammad Nabi Burhan, Secretary General of Afghan Red Crescent, said: “This latest earthquake is another horrific tragedy for Afghanistan, as if there were not enough. It struck in a grim backdrop where more than 50 per cent of our people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance due a combination of catastrophic crises.” “It is heartbreaking to see such human suffering among people who were already struggling to recover from effects of decades of conflict, severe drought, flooding, and extreme economic hardship among other shocks.” Afghan Red Crescent trucks with relief items and medicines as well as ambulances have been dispatched to the affected areas. These will complement mobile health teams that were already operational in Paktika, of which some have been redirected to address immediate needs resulting from the earthquake. Necephor Mghendi, IFRC’s Head of Delegation for Afghanistan, said: “Local responders and institutions have played a critical role in saving lives of thousands who would otherwise still be trapped in rubble. Strengthening local preparedness capacity is the surest and quickest way to an effective response." “We only recently revised our Emergency Appeal to increase emergency relief, health services and recovery assistance in almost all province of Afghanistan which are battling a cocktail of catastrophic humanitarian crises. Following the deadly earthquake, we will have to scale up further our operations in Khost and Paktika.” The IFRC has released 750,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) in support of a timely response by the Afghan Red Crescent. Increased global support and solidarity to deliver humanitarian assistance is needed. As part of its ongoing support, the IFRC is urgently appealing to the international community for 90 million Swiss francs to support the Afghan Red Crescent to deliver emergency relief, health services and recovery assistance to more than 1 million people in the provinces hit by multiple crises. This includes an extra 10 million Swiss francs to address the needs wrought by the quake. For more information or to arrange interviews: In Geneva: Benoit Matsha-Carpentier, Director A.I, Communications Department, Mob: +41 (0)79 213 24 13, Email: [email protected] In Asia/Pacific: Rachel Punitha, Manager A.I., Communications, Mob: +60 19 791 3830, Email: [email protected]

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17/06/2022 | Press release

Afghanistan: Hunger and poverty surge as drought persists

Kuala Lumpur/Kabul/Geneva 17 June – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling for increased global support to stem spiralling hunger in Afghanistan as one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises threatens millions. Intense summer heat and a weak spring rainy season have effectively spelled doom for a meaningful harvest in the country. Amidst mounting poverty, 70 percent of households are unable to meet basic food and non-food needs, with particularly devastating effects for homes headed by widows, the elderly, people with disabilities, and children. An estimated 3 million children are at risk of malnutrition and susceptible to diseases such as acute watery diarrhoea and measles due to weakened immunity. Thousands of people have resorted to begging in the streets, with prices of essential items soaring in the face of declining remittances, a crumbling economy and rising poverty. Dr Mohammad Nabi Burhan, Secretary General of Afghan Red Crescent, said: “This is one of the worst humanitarian crises I have seen in Afghanistan, in more than 30 years as a humanitarian aid worker. It is horrifying to see the extent of hunger and resurgence of poverty that we have fought so hard to eradicate. “It is particularly worrying for Afghans in rural and remote areas, where some of the country’s poorest communities face widespread destitution and very high levels of malnutrition after their crops failed or livestock perished. “A lack of food should not be a cause of death in Afghanistan. There needs to be a concerted international effort to continue critical humanitarian assistance across the country so that lives can be saved.” Afghan Red Crescent is ramping up its response operation using available funds, giving immediate priority to food and cash distributions as well as providing health services via more than 140 health facilities across Afghanistan. However, the latest reports show much more assistance will be needed. Necephor Mghendi, IFRC’s Head of Delegation for Afghanistan, said: “The increasing economic hardship is a bitter blow for families in Afghanistan who are trying to cope with one of the worst droughts and food crises they have ever faced, leaving children malnourished and far more vulnerable to preventable disease. “As well as providing critical relief to people struggling in the face of severe drought and hunger, livelihood interventions should be supported to enable people to restore means of earning an income. “There is also a need for investment in local institutions that deliver vital services in the cities as well as remote areas. Locally staffed, well-functioning institutions are proven to help the most vulnerable, including children, women, and the elderly in every corner of Afghanistan.” As part of this ongoing support, the IFRC is urgently appealing to the international community for 80 million Swiss francs to support the Afghan Red Crescent to deliver emergency relief, health services and recovery assistance to more than 1 million people in the provinces hit by multiple crises. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: Asia Pacific Office: Joe Cropp, +61 491 743 089, [email protected]

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22/03/2022 | Press release

Afghanistan: Food shortages escalate as spring fields remain bare

Kuala Lumpur/Kabul/Geneva, 22 March –The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is raising grave fears for millions of Afghans and farming communities as fields remain bare of the annual spring crops. The ongoing drought means that the area planted with winter wheat is well below average. Field reports indicate that half the ground normally sown with wheat was fallow at the end of the planting window in December. Hunger is worsening in Afghanistan, with 95 per cent of the population going without enough food to eat every day, according to the United Nations. The few crops which were planted are likely to face harsh conditions, with La Nina expected to bring drier than normal conditions in the coming months, extending the severe drought into a second year. Mawlawi Mutiul Haq Khales, Afghan Red Crescent Acting President, said: “Millions of families rely on farming, but they already lost last year’s crops to the severe drought, leaving them without grain to get through the harsh winter or seeds to sow in the fields. “Without seeds in the ground, there will be no harvest in spring and summer, creating a real risk of famine across Afghanistan, where nearly 23 million people are already unable to feed themselves every day. “We need to ramp up our efforts to support these communities with relief as they brace for a second year of drought and food shortages, while working to sustain livelihoods that are so important for families and entire communities.” The drought crisis has fuelled an economic crisis in a country where agriculture is critical for people’s livelihoods and the mainstay of the economy. More than 70 percent of Afghanistan’s population live in rural areas and around 80 percent of livelihoods depend on agriculture, according to the latest IPC Afghanistan food security data. Afghan Red Crescent, supported by the IFRC, is working with farming communities to have more sustainable water sources, drought resistant crops and other income generation opportunities for women in regional parts of the country. Johanna Arvo, IFRC’s Acting Head of Delegation for Afghanistan, said: “The ravages of climate change mean risks and hardship are skyrocketing for people in Afghanistan. Millions of people have faced two severe droughts in four years, causing catastrophic crop failures and devastating food shortages. “Temperatures are rising, leading to reduced snowfall cover, snowmelt and water supplies. Rainfall is becoming more erratic, decimating agriculture in Afghanistan. “As well as providing immediate relief, we must invest much more in the future by helping Afghans to establish more sustainable water supplies and drought resistant crops, while supporting income generation for the most at risk, including women and the elderly.” As part of this ongoing support, the IFRC is urgently appealing to the international community for more than 65 million Swiss francs to support the Afghan Red Crescent to deliver health services, emergency relief and recovery assistance to more than 1 million people in the provinces hit by multiple crises. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: Asia Pacific Office: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected] Asia Pacific Office: Joe Cropp, +61 491 743 089, [email protected]

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23/02/2022 | Press release

Afghanistan: Global support critical as COVID runs rampant

Kuala Lumpur/Kabul/Geneva, 23 February –The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies calls for urgent global support for health and testing services, and vaccinations to slow the spread of COVID-19 that is surging across all areas of Afghanistan, stretching the country’s fragile healthcare system. A new wave is hitting Afghanistan hard. Testing is inadequate, and the World Health Organisation reports that almost half of tested samples are coming back positive, indicating an alarming spread of the virus. With only 10 per cent of people fully vaccinated according to Our World in Data, the country’s fragile health system is struggling to cope with the surge in COVID-19 infections after dozens of COVID-19 health facilities were forced to close due to lack of medicines, essential medical supplies, and a lack of funds to pay for utilities and salaries of health workers. Fewer than 10 of the country’s 37 public COVID-19 health facilities remain functional, and they are unable to keep up with demand. Afghan Red Crescent is ramping up services at its health clinics across Afghanistan and its COVID-19 hospital in Kabul while supporting nationwide vaccination efforts and running information campaigns on preventing spread of the disease. Mawlawi Mutiul Haq Khales, Afghan Red Crescent Acting President, said: “As the number of COVID-19 infections increase from cities to remote corners of the country, the international community needs to open up the doors to support critical healthcare, testing and other essential services before it’s too late for the people of Afghanistan. "It is vital to increase the number of functional COVID-19 health facilities so that pressure can be eased on the few functioning hospitals.” International sanctions have severed hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid that is critical for maintaining the country’s health care system, including forcing the closure of dozens of COVID-19 case management facilities. Compounding the health crisis, a measles outbreak has infected thousands and killed dozens of people last month alone in Afghanistan. Necephor Mghendi, IFRC’s Head of Delegation for Afghanistan, said: “The measles outbreak is alarming since Afghanistan is in the middle of one of the worst droughts and food crises in decades, leaving children malnourished and far more vulnerable to the highly contagious disease. "It’s crucial for us to get relief to communities struggling in the face of multiple crises and severe hunger, while urgently investing in local institutions that deliver vital basic services including COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccinations. “Locally staffed community health programs and a well-functioning public health system are proven ways to help the most vulnerable in the communities across Afghanistan.” As part of this ongoing support, the IFRC is urgently appealing to the international community for more than 65 million Swiss francs to support the Afghan Red Crescent to deliver health services, emergency relief and recovery assistance to more than 1 million people in the provinces hit by multiple crises. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: Asia Pacific Office: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected] Asia Pacific Office: Joe Cropp, +61 491 743 089, [email protected]

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02/12/2021 | Press release

Afghanistan: Worst drought and hunger crisis in decades

Kuala Lumpur/Kabul/Geneva, 2 December – Afghanistan is in the grip of one of the worst droughts and food shortage crises in decades, threatening an unrivalled humanitarian catastrophe as a bitter winter looms large for millions of Afghans. Emergency food relief and winter survival kits are being urgently delivered by Afghan Red Crescent to people in areas worst affected by severe food shortages, supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Around 22.8 million people – 55 per cent of Afghanistan’s population – are experiencing high levels of acute food shortages. Severe drought has hit more than 80 percent of the country, crippling food production and forcing people from their land. Nearly 700,000 people have been internally displaced this year, joining some 3.5 million people already forced from their homes throughout the country, who all face a harsh winter, when temperatures can drop as low as -20C in some areas of Afghanistan. Mawlawi Mutiul Haq Khales, Afghan Red Crescent Acting President, said: “Afghans have shown remarkable resilience in the face of this latest drought, growing hunger and decades of conflict. Millions of people are struggling to survive due to wholescale crop losses, acute food shortages, and a lack of cash to buy basic necessities. “Afghan Red Crescent teams have not stopped helping people with relief and healthcare, but the vast majority of families remain unassisted, lacking adequate food provisions, money for the very basic needs and survival kits to get through the harsh winter months ahead.” The IFRC is providing 3,000 tonnes of food relief for 210,000 people and winter survival kits are being urgently delivered by Afghan Red Crescent in some of the hardest hit provinces for those suffering shortages and loss of income. To mitigate the misery and hardships of winter, families are being provided with winter kits, including blankets, thermal insulation and heaters but additional funding is needed to expand the humanitarian operations. As part of this ongoing support, the IFRC is urgently appealing to the international community for more than 36 million Swiss francs to support Afghan Red Crescent to deliver emergency relief and recovery assistance to 560,000 people in 16 provinces worst affected by severe drought and displacement. Alexander Matheou, Asia Pacific Director, IFRC, who is currently in Afghanistan, said: “This is the worst drought and hunger crisis faced by Afghans in living memory. Much faster international action is needed to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe in the coming months. “We are in a race against time to deliver life-saving relief and supplies ahead of a harsh winter which will cut off some of Afghanistan's most vulnerable people from any chance of assistance. “People are already going hungry in Afghanistan and conditions are continuing to deteriorate. I have spoken to doctors who are reporting increased cases of acute malnutrition amongst children. It will only get worse in the weeks ahead.” As well as immediate relief, IFRC appeal funds will help with establishing more drought-resistant crops and revitalising livestock, while supporting critical income generation for women, the elderly and those most at risk of spiralling poverty. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Kuala Lumpur: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected] In Geneva: Ann Vaessen, +41 79 405 77 50, [email protected]

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25/09/2021 | Emergency

Afghanistan: Regional population movement

The situation in Afghanistan remains precarious and uncertain following the change of leadership in August 2021, and as multiple political, socio-economic, climate-related and humanitarian shocks reverberate across the country. This Emergency Appeal supports preparedness and priority humanitarian response for population movement from Afghanistan to neighbouring countries, focusing on Tajikistan (and potentially other countries in Central Asia), Iran and Pakistan. This includes a focus on the response capacity and readiness of National Societies and host communities.

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30/09/2021 | Press release

Afghanistan faces collapse of health services and mass hunger

Kuala Lumpur/Kabul/Geneva, 30 September - The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warns that Afghanistan faces imminent collapse of health services and widespread hunger if aid and money do not flow into the country within weeks. Acute food shortages fuelled by serious drought, lack of cash and displacement, the COVID-19 pandemic and crippled health services have converged on the people of Afghanistan, with some 18 million Afghans in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Speaking from Kabul where he has been on a four-day official visit, Alexander Matheou, IFRC Asia Pacific Director said: “After living through decades of fleeing and fighting, Afghans now face a severe drought which has devastated food production, leaving millions hungry and destitute. “We are deeply concerned that Afghanistan faces imminent collapse of health services and worsening hunger if aid and money do not flow into the country within weeks. Health financing has been cut across the country placing ever more demand on Red Crescent teams. “Urgent international action is needed to support millions of people with the necessities of life as Afghanistan’s looming harsh winter threatens greater misery and hardships.” Afghan Red Crescent is providing support in some of the hardest hit provinces, including relief supplies to families suffering food shortages and loss of income. Red Crescent has been providing families who have lost their livelihoods due to the drought with cash grants to buy food, to plant drought-resistant food crops and protect their livestock. Health clinics, including mobile teams of doctors and nurses, are providing critical care across Afghanistan. As part of this ongoing support, the IFRC is urgently appealing to the international community for more than 36 million Swiss francs to support Afghan Red Crescent to deliver emergency relief and recovery assistance to 560,000 people in 16 provinces worst affected by severe drought and displacement. “Afghan Red Crescent has a long history of helping people living in areas other agencies are unable to reach. Red Crescent teams are ramping up critical maternal and child healthcare, food assistance and other emergency relief, but much more support is needed. “IFRC appeal funds will be used to help with sustainable water supplies, establishing more drought-resistant crops and revitalising livestock, while supporting critical income generation for those most at risk of spiralling poverty, including women and the elderly.” For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Kuala Lumpur: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451 [email protected] In Geneva: Nathalie Perroud, +41 79 538 14 71 [email protected] IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives and promote dignity around the world. www.ifrc.org - Facebook - Twitter - YouTube

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28/09/2021 | Press release

IFRC launches emergency appeal to prepare for and respond to population movements from Afghanistan

Geneva, 28 September 2021 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has recently launched a multi-country emergency appeal focused on preparedness and response efforts to population movements from Afghanistan into neighbouring countries and the wider region. Afghanistan faces an alarming humanitarian emergency and a worsening economic crisis, both likely to be further exacerbated by the approaching winter season. Access to banking services has been severely constrained, with cashflow crippled. A rapid deterioration of humanitarian conditions in Afghanistan could result in catastrophic consequences for vulnerable Afghans and could lead to further internal and cross-border displacement. Xavier Castellanos, IFRC Under Secretary General, National Society Development and Operations Coordination, said: “Millions of people in Afghanistan are suffering from compounded crises, such as severe drought, food and water shortages, internal displacement, the COVID-19 pandemic, a fractured health system, limited access to banking services, and restrictive social norms. Winter is approaching and we know it can be harsh. Many Afghans could cross international borders in the coming months. We need to prepare to provide them with protection and humanitarian assistance”. To support Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies in preparing for and responding to population movements from Afghanistan, the IFRC is appealing to donors with a funding requirement of more than 24 million Swiss francs. This amount would allow IFRC and its National Societies to continue their preparedness efforts to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to around 160,000 people crossing from Afghanistan into neighbouring countries and the wider region, for an initial period of twelve months. Priority countries of the emergency appeal include Iran, Pakistan, and Tajikistan. Other countries in Central Asia could also be involved in preparedness efforts. National Societies in neighbouring countries and the wider region have a long history of providing humanitarian assistance and protection to people from Afghanistan. Building on their technical experience in emergency response, National Societies stand ready to increase support to newly arriving Afghans, including with emergency shelter and essential household items; food; healthcare; water, sanitation, and hygiene; and protection of the most at risk, including women, children, and marginalized groups. The IFRC operational strategy remains flexible and will be constantly adapted based on the evolving situation, as well as people’s most urgent needs. The emergency appeal can be accessed from this webpage:Afghanistan – Regional population movement For more information, contact: In Geneva: Nathalie Perroud, +41 79 538 14 71, [email protected]

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16/09/2021 | Press release

More than 139 million people hit by climate crisis and COVID-19, new IFRC analysis reveals

New York, Geneva, 16 September 2021 – Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate-related disasters have affected the lives of at least 139.2 million people and killed more than 17,242. This is the finding of a new analysis published today by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, on the compound impacts of extreme-weather events and COVID-19. A further estimated 658.1 million vulnerable people have been exposed to extreme temperatures. Through new data and specific case studies, the report shows how people across the world are facing multiple crises and coping with overlapping vulnerabilities. The paper also highlights the need of addressing both crises simultaneously as the COVID-19 pandemic has affected livelihoods across the world and has made communities more vulnerable to climate risks. The IFRC President, Francesco Rocca, who today presented the new report at a press conference in New York, said: “The world is facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis where the climate change and COVID-19 are pushing communities to their limits. In the lead up to COP26, we urge world leaders to take immediate action not only to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also to address the existent and imminent humanitarian impacts of climate change”. The report comes a year after an initial analysisof the overlapping risks of extreme-weather events that have occurred during the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic continues to wreak havoc, with direct health impacts for millions of people around the world, but also a massive indirect impact, in part due to the response measures implemented to contain the pandemic. Food insecurity caused by weather extremes has been aggravated by COVID-19. Health systems are pushed to their limits and the most vulnerable have been the most exposed to overlapping shocks. In Afghanistan, the impacts of the extreme drought are compounded by conflict and COVID-19. The drought has crippled agricultural food production and diminished livestock, leaving millions of people hungry and malnourished. The Afghan Red Crescent Society has ramped up relief, including food and cash assistance for people to buy food supplies, plant drought-resistant food crops and protect their livestock. In Honduras, responding to hurricanes Eta and Iota during the pandemic, also meant additional challenges. Thousands of people became homeless in temporary shelters. Anti-COVID-19 measures in those shelters required physical distancing and other protective measures, which limited capacity. In Kenya, the impacts of COVID-19 are colliding with floods in one year and droughts in the next, as well as a locust infestation. Over 2.1 million people are facing acute food insecurity in rural and urban areas. In the country and across East Africa, the COVID-19 restrictions slowed down the flood response and outreach to affected populations increasing their vulnerabilities. Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the globe are not only responding to those overlapping crises but also helping communities to prepare and anticipate climate risks. In Bangladesh for instance, the Red Crescent Society has used IFRC’s designated funds for anticipatory action to disseminate flood related Early Warning Messages through loudspeakers in vulnerable areas so people can take the necessary measures or evacuate if necessary. Julie Arrighi, associate director at the RCRC Climate Center said: “Hazards do not need to become disasters. We can counter the trend of rising risks and save lives if we change how we anticipate crises, fund early action and risk reduction at the local level. Finally, we need to help communities become more resilient, especially in the most vulnerable contexts.” The COVID-19 pandemic has had a lasting impact on climate risks. Governments need to commit to investing in community adaptation, anticipation systems and local actors. “The massive spending in COVID-19 recovery proves that governments can act fast and drastically in the face of global threats. It is time to turn words into action and devote the same energy to the climate crisis. Every day, we are witnessing the impact of human-made climate change. The climate crisis is here, and we need to act now,” Rocca said. Download the paper:The compound impact of extreme weather events and COVID-19 For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Geneva: Tommaso Della Longa, +41 79 708 43 67, [email protected] Marie Claudet, +33 786 89 50 89 , [email protected]

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04/08/2021 | Press release

Afghanistan: Over 80% of country in serious drought

Kabul, Kuala Lumpur, Geneva, 4 August 2021– The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) urges greater international support for millions of people in Afghanistan who are suffering due to worsening drought, COVID-19 and armed conflict. The President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan officially declared a drought on 22 June, indicating that 30 percent of country is exposed to severe drought, 50 percent to serious drought and another 20 percent to moderate drought. Afghanistan’s wheat crop will be reduced by nearly 2 million tonnes and more than 3 million livestock are at risk of death, according to the government. The drought declaration comes as COVID-19 is further worsening existing health and socio-economic hardships across the country while ongoing hostilities are displacing thousands, all left to rely on humanitarian assistance. Dr Nilab Mobarez, the Afghan Red Crescent Society Acting President, said: “We are seeing the devastating impacts of this drought on millions of people who are suffering from severe food and water shortages in most areas of Afghanistan. Food crops are depleted and withered in the fields, and many people have lost their incomes. “Afghan Red Crescent response teams are urgently delivering relief, including food and cash assistance, for thousands of drought-affected families across bone-dry provinces.” “Our network of branches in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan and volunteers in each district enable us to deliver humanitarian assistance even in hard-to-reach areas. Afghan Red Crescent is recognized and widely accepted by parties to the conflict because of its neutrality and impartiality, thus well-placed to reach communities which would otherwise be left behind.” The IFRC isappealing for 15 million Swiss francsto support the Afghan Red Crescent Society to deliver cash grants to buy food supplies, restore livelihoods and crops for 280,000 people in 13 of the provinces worst affected by drought. Necephor Mghendi, IFRC’s Head of Delegation for Afghanistan, said: “Climate disasters, COVID-19 and conflict are converging in a living nightmare for the people of Afghanistan. Millions are going without meals every day and in some parts water is running dry. This is one of the most severe droughts ever in Afghanistan. “Urgent international action is needed to support more than 18 million people who will need humanitarian support in Afghanistan this year due to this drought and food crisis, compounding impacts of record COVID-19 and many years of armed conflict. “We have learnt from previous drought interventions that we must also invest more in drought-resistant crops, protecting livelihoods and livestock.” For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Kuala Lumpur:Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected] In Geneva:Nathalie Perroud, +41 79 538 14 71,[email protected]

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07/09/2021 | Press release

Aid critical as Afghanistan faces escalating humanitarian crises

Kuala Lumpur, Kabul, Geneva, 7 September 2021 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling for urgent action as millions of Afghans face colossal humanitarian needs wrought by a combination of crises: one of the country’s worst ever droughts, acute food shortages, a fractured health system and the devastation of COVID-19. Some 18 million Afghans – half the population – are in need of humanitarian assistance as severe drought compounds hardships caused by years of conflict and the pandemic. Without food or income, tens-of-thousands of families have left their homes, seeking food and shelter in urban areas where some are staying in relief camps. Dr Mohammad Nabi Burhan, Acting Secretary General of Afghan Red Crescent, said: “After living through decades of hardships, Afghans now face the ravages of a climate crisis, a global pandemic and internal displacement. Urgent international action is needed to support millions of people with the necessities of life through the coming months and Afghanistan’s harsh winter.” “Red Crescent teams are ramping up efforts across the country, providing emergency relief, cash grants and basic health care, but we know that more support is needed to enable families to plant crops, re-establish livelihoods and build a brighter future.” Afghan Red Crescent is providing support in some of the hardest hit provinces, including relief supplies to families suffering food shortages and loss of income. Red Crescent is also providing families who have lost their livelihoods due to the drought with cash grants to buy food supplies, to plant drought-resistant food crops and protect their livestock. Health clinics, including mobile health teams, operating across rural Afghanistan, are providing critical healthcare. As part of this ongoing support, the IFRC is scaling up its appeal to more than 36 million Swiss francs to support the Afghan Red Crescent to deliver emergency relief and recovery assistance to 560,000 people in 16 provinces worst affected by drought and compounding conflict-induced displacement. Necephor Mghendi, IFRC’s Head of Delegation for Afghanistan, said: “Severe drought, food insecurity, and a fragile health system struggling to stay afloat with devastating waves of COVID-19 have all been compounded by recent events and require urgent international action more than ever.” “It’s vital we look to the future and support the people of Afghanistan as they work hard to heal and recover after 40 years of conflict." “IFRC appeal funds will be used to help with sustainable water supplies, revitalising drought-resistant crops and diminished livestock, while supporting income generation for those most at risk, including women and the elderly.” For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: In Kuala Lumpur: Antony Balmain, +60 12 230 8451, [email protected] In Melbourne: Joe Cropp, +61 (0) 491 743 089, [email protected] In Geneva: Ann Vaessen, +41 79 405 77 50, [email protected]

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06/09/2021 | Emergency

Afghanistan: Humanitarian crises

Afghanistan is experiencing the compounding effects of decades of conflict, severe drought, food insecurity, climate-related disasters, displacement and gaps in health services. A deadly 5.9 magnitude earthquake also struck the south east of the country on 22 June, claiming at least 1,000 lives. This revised Emergency Appeal seeks 90 million Swiss francs, increased from an initial 36 million Swiss francs in August 2021, to further scale up the Afghan Red Crescent Society's (ARCS) humanitarian response to multiple humanitarian crises in Afghanistan. Funds raised enable the IFRC to support the ARCS to deliver assistance and support to 1,000,000 people in all 34 provinces.

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06/02/2020 | Article

South Asia Forum on Preparedness for Regional Disaster Response

There is growing momentum in Asia Pacific towards regional approaches for disaster management and response. Many governments are increasingly seeing the value of working in collaboration and examining the possibility of revising governance frameworks and developing joint mechanisms to better support regional disaster preparedness and response. South Asia is no exception. In order to advance this approach, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Secretariat and the IFRC co-hosted the South Asian Forum on Preparedness for Regional Disaster Response from 4th to 6th November 2019 in Nepal. The forum had a specific focus on how states and partners can better work together to implement the SAARC Agreement on Rapid Response to Natural Disasters (SAARND). The SAARC Agreement is a regional treaty outlining arrangements for peer support and collaboration in times of disaster across the region. The agreement was signed in 2011 and ratified in 2016, however as of yet, there have not been any tangible steps to operationalise it. During the Forum, participants from Governments and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from South Asia, representatives from SAARC Secretariat, the UN System and IFRC met to discuss the current status of implementation, challenges and opportunities in implementation of the SAARND in their respective States. As part of this, they considered how to strengthen their domestic governance arrangements to support implementation of their regional commitments. The Forum closed with the adoption of the ‘Call for Action from the South Asia Forum on Preparedness for Regional Disaster Response for the Implementation of the SAARC Agreement on Rapid Response to Natural Disasters’ which outlined key measures to be worked on in partnership. The Red Cross and Red Crescent is committed to work with SAARC, its member states and partners across the region to strengthen regional cooperation for disaster preparedness and response.

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21/05/2019 | Article

Afghanistan: millions still in desperate need after floods crisis

Afghan Red Crescent volunteers and staff are still hard at work distributing food parcels, blankets, tarpaulins and other support to affected communities devastated by dramatic flooding across the country in March and April. The most recent distribution was in Hilmand province, where around 1,000 food parcels were brought to communities in need. Even before the floods, drought had left 6.3 million people in Afghanistan in desperate need of humanitarian aid and protection. Countless people are facing an uncertain and precarious future after three years of drought caused land degradation and desertification, lower agricultural production, economic hardship, hunger and loss of life. Some 287,000 people have been forced to leave their homes. To respond to continuing floods – and ever-growing humanitarian needs - IFRC scaled up its emergency appeal seeking 8 million Swiss francs to support the Afghan Red Crescent Society in providing humanitarian assistance to 675,000 people affected by flood and drought for 12 months. Our operation includes activities in shelter, health and care; water, sanitation and hygiene; livelihoods and basic needs, and disaster risk reduction. The humanitarian needs are increasing daily and therefore require a collective effort. However, the emergency appeal remains heavily under-funded.

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