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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations



Ongoing conflict, insecurity and a severe drought in spring 2021 continue to cause large-scale suffering and displacement in Afghanistan and the region.

Despite the challenges posed by the withdrawal of international troops and the Taliban takeover, the EU continues to provide life-saving assistance in Afghanistan. EU humanitarian aid focuses on health care, nutritional support, cash and protection assistance. This also includes areas that the government and other bodies covering basic needs of the local populations cannot reach.

What are the needs?

According to the United Nations, Afghanistan saw an increase of 47% of civilian casualties in the first 6 months of 2021, compared to the same period last year. Since the beginning of 2021, some 668,000 people fled their homes, bringing the number of displaced people to at least 4.2 million.

Attacks against medical and educational facilities remained high over 2021. Since August 2021, the deepening economic crisis has increasingly triggered displacement.

The COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 spring drought, persisting political insecurities and continued violence have further deteriorated the humanitarian situation. The economy may contract by up to 30%.

COVID-19 related import restrictions and widespread unemployment have worsened food insecurity. Close to 23 million people (55% of the population) are critically food insecure.

Also, severe weather conditions, including drought, heavy snowfall, flash floods and avalanches  regularly affect thousands of people and their homes.

Over 1.17 million people returned from Iran and Pakistan in 2021. The influx of returnees has strained the capacity of existing services. It has also caused concerns about their reintegration and living conditions.

Meanwhile, close to 6.5 million Afghans still live as refugees in neighbouring Iran and Pakistan – many without registration or legal status.

Afghanistan Country Map

How are we helping?

Given the intensity of the conflict and the level of humanitarian needs, the EU’s priority is to provide life-saving assistance. In 2021, the EU allocated more than €222 million in humanitarian support. In light of the recent Taliban takeover, additional humanitarian funding will be made available that is allocated to humanitarian organisations.

The EU has funded humanitarian operations in Afghanistan since 1994, providing over €1.2 billion. EU humanitarian aid is never channelled through governments or armed groups, but funding is allocated to our humanitarian partners on the ground. The funding strictly adheres to the humanitarian principles of independence, impartiality and neutrality to ensure it reaches Afghans most in need.

The 2021 funding will ensure critical relief assistance to the most vulnerable including the victims of war, forced displacement and natural hazards. Interventions focus on providing emergency (i) health care, (ii) shelter, (iii) food assistance, (iv) access to clean water and sanitation facilities, as well as (v) various protection services targeting women and children.

In 2021, EU funding is also addressed the food insecurity and health emergencies related to the spring drought, conflict, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The support for COVID-19 patients and preventing the further spread of the virus is part of the continued funding.

To facilitate the delivery of life-saving aid, the EU deployed 10 Humanitarian Air Bridge flights in 2021. These flights carried over 280 tonnes of cargo, including surgical equipment and medical supplies that are critical to continue providing life-saving medical assistance in Afghanistan.

EU assistance is distributed by 25 humanitarian organisations, including the United Nations and other EU humanitarian partners, operating in the country.

The EU also funds the Emergency Response Mechanism, which ensures timely and flexible emergency assistance to people who have been recently displaced. In 2020, it reached more than 220,000 people in all provinces through the delivery of cash assistance, clean water, and access to sanitation services.

This initial provision of life-saving assistance has allowed other humanitarian agencies to coordinate and plan further assistance in the mid- and long-term, and helped EU partners to deliver solid advocacy efforts for the early mobilisation of development and stabilisation funds.

Furthermore, the EU supports life-saving health services, whilst ensuring access to health care for people in areas where regular health services are disrupted. Health facilities continue to report record-high admission levels. The EU also supports a particular nutrition response, in view of the more than 3 million children under 5 suffering from malnutrition in Afghanistan.

The EU also funds education projects for children who were forced out of school due to conflict or displacement. EU funding supports humanitarian flights, the provision of security information to non-governmental organisations and the coordination of humanitarian interventions.

Last updated: 21/12/2021
Picture: © European Union, 2019 (photographer: Peter Biro)

Facts & figures

More than 4.2 million peopledisplaced. (OCHA/IOM)

18.4 million peoplein need.(Humanitarian Response Plan 2021)

Over 1.17 million people returned from neighboring countries since January 2021. (IOM)

More than 6.5 million Afghans live in Iran and Pakistan.

EU humanitarian aid funding:
Over €222 million in 2021
Close to €1.2 billion since 1994