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Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan

Volume 718: debated on Tuesday 19 July 2022

My noble Friend the Minister for South and Central Asia, North Africa, United Nations and the Commonwealth (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon), has made the following written ministerial statement:

The UK has committed £286 million in financial year 2022-23 for Afghanistan. This aid will provide life-saving support to the most vulnerable, especially women and girls. We are working with aid agencies to ensure that marginalised groups have equal, safe and dignified access to assistance and services. Our funding has included support for access to sustainable clean water and sanitation, nutrition treatment and primary healthcare services, as well as support in response to gender-based violence.

The earthquake in Paktika and Khost provinces in eastern Afghanistan on 22 June exacerbated the humanitarian situation and killed over 1,000 people and injured over 2,900. The Government offered support only hours after the earthquake struck. UK aid was already being delivered to the affected areas prior to the earthquake via the UN, non-Government organisations and the Red Cross. The Government rapidly allocated £3 million for immediate life-saving support to people affected. £2 million has been disbursed to the International Federation of the Red Cross, £500,000 to the Norwegian Refugee Council and £500,000 to the International Rescue Committee to provide shelter, healthcare, water, sanitation and hygiene support.

The Government’s response to the earthquake is part of our concerted ongoing humanitarian support. Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis is affecting just under half of the population, with 18.9 million facing acute food insecurity. Afghanistan remains one of the world’s most severe food security crises. People continue to turn to drastic measures to feed their families. Over 6 million people have been internally displaced and millions of children are out of school, in part because the Taliban still prevent girls from attending secondary school.

The UK has disbursed £140 million in humanitarian aid since April 2022 including £50 million to the Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund, £70 million to the World Food Programme and £12 million to the United Nations Children’s Fund. Through the World Food Programme, the UK aims to support over 4 million people with food assistance. All our funding is provided directly to humanitarian organisations working in Afghanistan. All UK aid is subject to strict monitoring and verification to ensure it is only used to help the vulnerable people it is intended for.

Humanitarian partners report they are increasingly facing interference attempts by the Taliban and other armed groups in the delivery of independent, equitable and safe humanitarian assistance. There have been instances of periodic disruption in aid delivery in specific locations, however to date, UK funded agencies continue to deliver. The UK regularly emphasises to the Taliban the need for humanitarian organisations to operate independently in the delivery of assistance and to respect the rights of women and girls.

The UK continues to engage closely with donors and played an instrumental role in supporting the World Bank Board’s decision to make the remaining $1 billion in the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund available. $793 million of programming is currently in the process of being mobilised, focusing on community projects and livelihoods, health and food security.

The Foreign Secretary and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon are in regular contact with their international counterparts on Afghanistan. At the G7 Foreign Ministers meeting in May, the Foreign Secretary discussed the current security, humanitarian, and human rights situation as well as longer term prospects for the country and region with her counterparts. Ministers have regular discussions with humanitarian actors working in Afghanistan, most recently during Lord Ahmad’s trip to Geneva in June 2022, where he met the Red Cross and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

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