Photo: WFP/Marco Di Lauro

EU and Japan Announce New Humanitarian Funding for Afghanistan

The European Union (EU) and the government of Japan have announced humanitarian aid packages to help Afghanistan. Both packages aim to address the country’s dire humanitarian situation, support refugees and returnees, and help people affected by the recent earthquake in Herat province.

In a statement on Thursday, November 30, the EU mission in Afghanistan announced the new package of €142.8 million, saying the funding will focus on health, nutrition, education, clean water, and sanitation, in particular for women, girls, displaced populations and those affected by displacement.

“The assistance is part of the €1.2 billion package mobilized to date since the Commission President von der Leyen’s pledge in August 2021 to allocate at least €1 billion in support of the Afghan people. With the adoption of this new package, the EU has mobilized a total of €676 million, complementing €554 million in humanitarian assistance,” the EU stated.

In a social media post on Monday, December 4, the Embassy of Japan in Afghanistan announced its humanitarian contribution of $58.4 million to the people of Afghanistan. The embassy stated that it will deliver the assistance through partners such as the UN Agencies, international organizations, and Japanese NGOs. “With the upcoming USD58.4 million, the cumulative Japanese contributions to Afghanistan since August 2021 will amount to USD447 million.”

The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has severed since the Taliban overtook power in August 2021. Over two-thirds of the population now require urgent humanitarian assistance. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated earlier that over 29 million people desperately need humanitarian and protection assistance, up from 24.4 million in 2022 and 18.4 million in 2021. This places Afghanistan at the forefront of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

In addition to the ongoing economic woes, the multiple earthquakes in Herat province in October and the deportation of undocumented immigrants from Pakistan and Iran further deepened the humanitarian crisis in the country. The recent earthquakes in Herat province, Afghanistan, have caused widespread devastation and displacement, leaving thousands of people in need of urgent assistance. The earthquake, which struck on October 7, 2023, was followed by a series of powerful aftershocks that further compounded the damage. According to a UN report, the earthquake has affected at least 1.6 million people, with over 21,000 homes destroyed or severely damaged. The death toll is estimated to be around 1,500, with thousands more injured. The earthquake has also had a significant impact on the local economy, disrupting agriculture and livelihoods. Many people have lost their homes, businesses, and livestock, and are now struggling to meet their basic needs.

On the other hand, Afghanistan’s neighboring countries, Iran and Pakistan, cast a long shadow over efforts to help. While some countries are reaching out with aid, these two countries are forcing thousands of Afghan refugees to return home, creating a harsh reality for those fleeing poverty and the Taliban persecution. Since Pakistan began deportations in November, the UN reports a staggering exodus: nearly 400,000 refugees forced back from Pakistan alone, with another 320,000 expelled from Iran in just six months. These families arrive with almost nothing, their lives packed into a few bags. Shelter, food, even basic necessities—it’s all desperately needed just to survive.