What are the needs?
People in Afghanistan continue to suffer from over three decades of armed conflict and frequent natural disasters.
Fighting between non-state-armed groups and Afghan and international security forces has so far been confined to southern and eastern Afghanistan. The planned withdrawal of the international forces by 2014 may lead to a further deterioration in the security situation. Civilians will inevitably bear the brunt of these heightened confrontations.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) estimates that over 667 000 people remain displaced within the country. However, there could be many more as accurate data is missing due to the lack of access to some provinces. There is an urgent need to improve data gathering as well as analysis. Devastated by the long-drawn conflict, inhabitants of affected provinces need psychosocial care and protection from violence. Basic services like food, medicines, healthcare, drinking water and shelter are also urgently required.
Some 5.7 million Afghan refugees, who have returned to Afghanistan since 2002, need to be supported. A further 2.5 million Afghans are still living as refugees in neighbouring Iran and Pakistan.
The effects of floods, droughts, avalanches and sandstorms that occur with alarming frequency in Afghanistan are magnified by the government's limited mitigation capacity. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people affected by natural disasters require international humanitarian assistance.
How are we helping?
The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) is one of the few humanitarian donors consistently supporting projects in Afghanistan since 1994. It has allocated funds strictly on the basis of the humanitarian principles of independence, impartiality and neutrality. In the last decade, the EU has provided more than €584 million to meet the basic needs of the Afghan population.
In 2014, ECHO continues to provide humanitarian assistance to conflict and disaster-affected communities in Afghanistan, including support to refugees returning from Pakistan, and to a lesser degree from Iran. Projects funded by the EU are providing emergency medical care, food and water assistance, protection, shelter, sanitation, hygiene promotion, and livelihood support to people affected by conflict and natural disasters in general and to the displaced in particular. ECHO also continues to facilitate access for humanitarian organisations to people in need through air transport services. We are also working with relief organisations towards strengthening coordination in needs assessment and response.