What is happening in Afghanistan and how you, as a professional advisor, can support your clients to understand how they can help.
Crisis in Afghanistan
As the world watches the situation in Afghanistan unfold, it’s clear that the recent transfer of power from the former Afghan government has caused immense uncertainty across the country. Worse yet, it’s only compounding an existing ‘triple threat’ of climate change, conflict and Covid-19. At the start of the year, humanitarian needs in Afghanistan were already some of the largest in the world, when the International Rescue Committee (IRC) ranked Afghanistan second on Watchlist 2021, a list of countries at greatest risk of deterioration.
Now the situation is rapidly worsening by nearly every measure, with women and girls bearing the brunt of the violence. Half the population – 18.4 million people – in Afghanistan require humanitarian assistance, and seventy five percent of those in need are women and children. Without appropriate treatment, UNICEF estimates that 1 million children’s lives are at risk
Rapid Humanitarian Response
Whilst the crisis now highlights Afghanistan to the global community, NGOs such as the IRC were already on the ground providing support vital to the safety, education and wellbeing of millions of Afghans. In Afghanistan, IRC is an exemplar as 99% of the staff are Afghan nationals and the team’s ability to operate in communities across the country is rooted in their expertise and a decades-long presence, earning trust and gaining a deep understanding of needs.
IRC has stayed in Afghanistan through crisis after crisis over the past three decades and is committed to stay and deliver now. Access to critical information, the provision of health services, rapid impact cash assistance and education for the tens of thousands of internally displaced children are amongst the most pressing priorities inside the country.
In the UK, the IRC offers employment support and orientation on life in the UK to help refugees adapt to their new communities. The United Kingdom Community Foundation (UKCF) networks are also actively engaged with local organisations, charities, Local Authorities and Local Resilience Forums who have been working in resettlement for many years.
The Role of the Philanthropic Community and their professional advisors
The complexity and deterioration of the situation, and the number of organisations working to respond, can make it daunting for even the most experienced philanthropists to know how best to help. By supporting and collaborating with the organisations on the frontline of the response, an advisor’s clients can have a direct impact in reaching the people of Afghanistan with urgent, life-saving aid.
It is important to note that while both the US and UK have begun to put systems in place to protect Afghan refugees, current measures will help less than 1% of Afghans and the UN Humanitarian Response Plan for Afghanistan is only just over 60% funded. The already-fragile Afghan economy has been decimated and people are at risk of relying solely on humanitarian aid for survival. The socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 are translating into a dramatic impact on food insecurity with levels now similar to those seen during the 2018 drought.
Few things matter more right now than ensuring the response in Afghanistan is resourced through sustainable, flexible funding, and that this funding is channeled directly to frontline NGOs and community-based actors. These organisations have strong relationships with local communities and can reach affected people today – and when inevitably the media and public attention moves on.
Philanthropic giving matters and it makes a true impact, especially today. There are many ways to contribute in a meaningful way and the first step is to speak to organisations who have been working in this area for a long time, call on us to give you and your clients guidance and help you understand what it is that philanthropic donations can achieve, how important philanthropy it is to help create a stable environment for those you seek to help either in country or in a host country. Alongside the IRC humanitarian response page here, you can find up-to-date information via UNHCR’s Afghanistan Situation portal.
There are also emergency funds that clients can contribute to quickly, such as the IRC’s Crisis Response Fund (CRF), a pooled fund that allows donors to come together in the knowledge that each individual contribution is leveraged to achieve impact that far exceeds what they can achieve alone.
The humanitarian community is effective and works collaboratively and with compassion for all humanity - we welcome, and we celebrate, our partnership with the philanthropic community. Afghans need and deserve life-saving humanitarian aid and global support, regardless of whose control they live under. By working together, we can deliver it.