Afghanistan crisis: How CAFOD is responding and how you can help
29 December 2021
The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans fled their homes, compounding an existing crisis following periods of drought and decades of conflict. This winter, millions of people face hunger and extreme poverty.
What is the current situation in Afghanistan?
The humanitarian situation has deteriorated since mid-August when the Taliban took over the capital Kabul and took control of Afghanistan.
Afghan families are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance: food, water and shelter.
Over half the country’s population – around 22.8 million people – are facing acute hunger this winter, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has warned. More than eight million people are on the brink of famine, with a million children under the age of five at risk of dying over the next three months.
The situation in Afghanistan is highly complex with decades of conflict that have taken a terrible toll on Afghan people, resulting in deaths, injuries and pushing families further into poverty. Drought and coronavirus have added even greater problems for vulnerable families struggling with hunger and healthcare.
How are CAFOD and local experts responding to the situation?
The work of our local partners has now resumed, and they are preparing to provide food packages and cash assistance to vulnerable families.
We will be supporting Afghans who have urgent humanitarian needs over the coming months – both within Afghanistan and in neighbouring countries – whilst also continuing to provide longer-term support.
We work with trusted partners who are close to the communities they serve and are therefore able to ensure your donation securely reaches those who need it most.
CAFOD started working in Afghanistan in the late 1980s and a core part of our work has been to support Afghan organisations committed to improving the lives of vulnerable and marginalised people, supporting them to earn a living.
Our local humanitarian experts are continuing to do rapid assessments ensuring that the most vulnerable families are reached. They have already started providing short-term cash assistance to more than 8,000 small-scale farming families - approximately 56,000 people - in over 50 of the most drought-affected villages in the country to allow them to buy basic food for their families and plant their crops for next season.
What has the Catholic Church said about the situation in Afghanistan?
Pope Francis has expressed his “unanimous concern for the situation in Afghanistan”. He called for prayers “so that the clamour of weapons may cease, and solutions may be found at the negotiating table".
The leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, has called on the UK government to allow more refugees to come to the UK in light of the situation in Afghanistan.
In a joint letter to the Guardian newspaper on 26 August, Bishop Paul McAleenan, lead bishop for migrants and refugees of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, urged the British government "to go further in helping at-risk Afghans, human rights defenders and women activists, and create safe passages so that people can find sanctuary without resorting to dangerous journeys.”
Please continue to keep the people of Afghanistan in your thoughts and prayers.
How can you help people when there is such poor access to banks?
Many commercial banks have started limited opening, but the situation is still difficult. We are taking careful steps to ensure that our funds reach our partners that are best able to reach the people in greatest need.
Any money transferred to the partners we work with will be done so securely and safely. CAFOD has a robust due diligence, monitoring and verifying process to ensure that donations reach their intended purpose.
How can CAFOD be sure that aid will get to where it is needed most?
Vital work by our partners has started to resume in some areas inside Afghanistan. But in a changing and uncertain situation, we are doing everything possible to ensure the wellbeing of local partners and the communities they serve.
Catholic sister agencies are already providing humanitarian aid to affected families in some of the most remote areas of Afghanistan and we are also working with them.
Are you able to reach the most vulnerable women and children?
CAFOD's Afghanistan Crisis Appeal will ensure that the most vulnerable people in Afghanistan will be assisted based on a thorough needs assessment. On top of the priority list will be older women, women headed households, people with disabilities, pregnant and breastfeeding women. Women are always disproportionately affected in humanitarian situations and in Afghanistan women have again been disproportionately affected by escalating conflict, Covid-19, floods and droughts, and the resulting poverty.
The impact of a Taliban-governed Afghanistan on women’s ability to go to work with guarantees of safety are still unclear. We will only support programmes that ensure women have full access; we are keen to ensure our local partners’ female staff are able to continue their work.