Photo: UNHCR via X

UNHCR and IsDB Ink $10 Million Deal for Humanitarian Aid in Afghanistan

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in collaboration with the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), which is a trustee of the Afghanistan Humanitarian Trust Fund (AHTF), signed several agreements to support education, healthcare, and livelihood opportunities in Afghanistan.

According to the statement released by UNHCR, the three agreements totaling $10 million were signed at the headquarters of the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah, capital of Saudi Arabia on Thursday, January 4.

While Afghanistan may have slipped from the headlines, it remains one of the world’s most severe humanitarian crises. More than two-thirds of the population struggles with food insecurity, and an alarming nearly 1 million children confront acute malnutrition, with women and girls disproportionately affected.

The persistent crisis has positioned the UN in a challenging role, balancing the essential task of providing humanitarian aid to the desperate while urging the Taliban to cease their severe human rights violations.

The country’s humanitarian crisis was exacerbated in October by four 6.3-magnitude earthquakes hitting the western Herat province, resulting in the deaths and injuries of thousands and widespread destruction. Many survivor families remain in need of life-saving services and support amid the cold winter in Western Afghanistan.

As if that was not enough, the neighboring countries, Pakistan and Iran, decided to forcibly repatriate hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees. A recent report indicates that over the past year, more than 1 million Afghan refugees have been forcibly deported to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

The UN estimates that in 2024, over half of Afghanistan’s population, about 23.7 million people, will require humanitarian aid. To address this pressing need, the UN has called for $3 billion in funding to deliver life-saving assistance to these vulnerable populations. Hopes, however, remain slim for the agency to meet its target.

Last year, the UN launched a record-breaking $4.6 billion appeal for humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, aiming to support millions of people with essential needs like food, shelter, medical care, and more. However, due to evolving circumstances, the appeal was revised down to $3.2 billion in early June. As of November, only 39.6% of the revised amount had been raised. The World Food Program (WFP) reported that 10 million people in Afghanistan lost access to vital food assistance between May and November 2023 due to a critical funding shortfall.

The new agreements will enable UNHCR-led initiatives, including the building of 16 integrated schools, setting up information points to enhance education access for more than 30,000 school-age children, and expanding healthcare services across 34 provinces with eight new centers, benefiting more than half a million people from returnees, displaced and host communities. Moreover, these projects encompass vocational training and livelihood programs, such as beekeeping and wool spinning.

According to the statement, Mohammad J. Alsaati, Special Advisor to the President of IsDB and Coordinator of the AHTF, highlighted the importance of the agreements, calling it a milestone to   “help and support the vulnerable in Afghanistan through the formulation and approval of high-impact projects.”