Photo: OCHA/Paolo Palmero

OCHA: 30 humanitarian aid workers killed in Afghanistan in two years

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that at least 30 humanitarian aid workers were killed in Afghanistan in the last two years.

Marking World Humanitarian Day, OCHA’s humanitarian coordinator for Afghanistan, Daniel Endres thanked the aid workers’ life-saving commitment to supporting vulnerable lives countrywide.

“We also recognize those humanitarian workers who lost their lives, were injured, abducted, arrested, or remain in captivity in the line of duty,” Endres said in a video message on Saturday. “This includes the 30 aid workers killed during the last two years, many of whom were polio vaccinators and deminers.”

In 2022, aid workers, Endres said, assisted vulnerable communities and families, reaching more than 26 million people across all of the country’s 401 districts despite the challenging environment.

“This year, they have continued in their effort, reaching more than 23.6 million people, including 12 million women and girls, with at least one form of assistance.” He added.

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator also highlighted the vital and unique role of women aid workers who often serve as the “only lifeline” for millions of at-risk women and girls despite the restrictions by the Taliban.

Nevertheless, the existing funding shortfall is forcing UN life-saving programs to close at an alarming rate.

“The number of people targeted for food assistance has been slashed from 13 million at the beginning of the year to nine million in March, and 5 million people in May. Additionally, more than 260 static and mobile health facilities have had to discontinue their services, limiting access to primary health care for 2 million people.” The UN agency said in a statement.

The statement warns that many more activities are affected, with further disruption and closure of programs inevitable if underfunding continues.

OCHA indicates that this year, a staggering 29.2 million people (more than two-thirds of the population) require humanitarian assistance to survive, a 480% increase in just five years.