Afghanistan in crisis: how you can help
The people of Afghanistan are facing a brutal winter, with more than 8 million people at risk of famine. Learn more about how your donation will help Last updated 1 February 2022
It's been six months since we saw the harrowing scenes from Afghanistan on TV and across social media. For the people in Afghanistan, things have gone from bad to worse, compounded by years of conflict and the worst drought in 27 years.
Donations to the British Red Cross's Afghanistan Crisis Appeal has reached almost £7 million.
This money is being urgently channelled to people who are most in need. That includes:
- 3,000 tonnes of food relief – this is enough for 210,000 people in the coming months. 24,500 people have already received emergency food aid
- 5,000 hygiene kits
- 3,500 kits containing household items.
A major operation to support the livelihoods of 280,000 people will begin in the coming months.
A brutal winter
Winter has now set in and 22 million people are experiencing severe food shortages and hunger, while 8 million are on the brink of famine.
Among them, 3.2 million children under five are likely to experience acute malnutrition by the new year.
Temperatures often dip below freezing. In December, 3,500 winter survival kits, including coats, shoes and blankets, were distributed.
Heavy fighting in big cities like Kandahar, Herat and Lashkar Gahar has damaged homes, hospitals and infrastructure. Afghanistan is a country on its knees.
With over 30 years of experience in Afghanistan and a network of staff and 40,000 volunteers on the ground, Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement operations continue in Kabul and across the country.
Afghanistan has endured years of drought
Watch British Red Cross's senior advisor humanitarian crises, Maryann Horne, describe the desperate situation faced by people in Afghanistan. Find out how your donation will help.Donate to the Afghanistan appeal
Emergency in Afghanistan
Since relocations began, our teams in the UK have supported over 16,000 people who have been evacuated from Afghanistan, welcoming families at airports and hotels, and providing emotional support as well as essential items including warm clothing and baby bottles.
Our trained staff and volunteers have been providing vital compassionate support in the days and weeks after the harrowing journeys made by families who have had to leave behind their homes and loved ones.
Looking for family in Afghanistan?
For further support and information related to Afghanistan, click here.
"People have nothing and are in desperate need"
Watch Dr Hamdullah, who is working with one of the Red Crescent medical teams, describe the lack of healthcare faced by Afghans across the country.
How will the appeal help the people of Afghanistan?
The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is on the ground across all 34 of Afghanistan’s provinces. We have over 140 health teams, including 70 mobile health teams who cover the entire country. This life-saving medical support has become even more critical now, after weeks of heavy fighting has left thousands injured and hospitals damaged, in a region devastated by extreme drought and flash flooding.
Our Covid-19 hospital in Kabul has also treated thousands of patients and has remained open and operating as virus cases in the country spiral.
The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has been providing humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan for decades, working independently to meet huge and diverse needs across the country in all communities. We will not stop now.
Donations will help us meet the basic needs of people in the region by providing food, medical supplies and medicines, shelter and water.
- £10 could provide food to those in Afghanistan going hungry
- £25 could provide clean water to severely affected families
- £50 could provide urgent medical care to those who need it
- £100 could provide cash based assistance to people who have been displaced from their homes.
How many people are affected by the crisis in Afghanistan?
More than 18 million Afghan people need humanitarian support, which is over half of the country’s population. For perspective, this is the equivalent of the population of Greater London and the South-East of England.
More than 700,000 are now internally displaced.
British Red Cross volunteer Amina* arrived in the UK in 2008, after leaving Afghanistan. She works as a volunteer interpreter, with refugees and people seeking asylum. She says her friends in the country are facing many challenges.
“I kindly ask the people in the UK to donate, to contribute, to have solidarity for people in Afghanistan, because this is very stressful and uncertain time for everyone in Afghanistan,” Amina said. “There is a crisis, there is no food, no money, no work. It is not an easy time for people in Afghanistan. If they can donate to the British Red Cross that will be a big help for people in Afghanistan."
*Amina's name has been changed
Where is Afghanistan?
Afghanistan is a land-locked country in Central Asia, bordered by Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Its capital is Kabul.
Why support the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in Afghanistan?
The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has been providing humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan for decades, as well as in the UK through support to refugee programmes.
As a local agency, Afghan Red Crescent staff and volunteers are working in every province across the country, with direct access to support communities with ongoing relief operations and health services.
Recognised for its neutrality, impartiality and independence, the Red Crescent has been able to help people living in isolated areas.
"The Red Cross and Red Crescent’s strength is really being there for people in times of crisis, may it be with medical clinics, may it be with displacement, shelter, provision of sanitation and clean water, really to help those most vulnerable at a time of need," said Maryann Horne, the British Red Cross's head of humanitarian policy.
"So please, I would urge you to donate and donate generously to make sure that these funds are able to be channelled not just to the existing needs but also the future needs."
What is the UK government doing to help?
The British Red Cross is ready to work with the UK Government and other partners to welcome Afghan people affected by the crisis and look forward to more details on the plans and timing. Read more here.
“We welcome the UK Government’s significant efforts to provide safety for people from Afghanistan in need of protection,” says Alex Fraser, the British Red Cross’s director of refugee support. “Now we have to make sure the right support is in place for people who have already arrived in the UK and those who will arrive through the resettlement scheme.
“Over 300 Local Authorities have generously committed to housing and supporting Afghans who are already here, and many are proactively finding suitable accommodation. Approximately 12,000 individuals remain in hotels waiting to be moved into permanent accommodation. We are aware how damaging staying in hotel accommodation for months on end can be for the mental and physical health of those seeking safety and stability. Every individual seeking protection, including those from Afghanistan, need a proper home, access to healthcare and education, communities to settle in, where they can go to school and find a job.”
You can keep up to date with the British Government’s response here.
Where are Afghans going to?
Nearly 700,000 Afghans have been internally displaced this year with some 3.5 million people in total uprooted throughout the country
We know from other situations around the world that the vast majority of people are hosted by countries that border the one they have left. In fact, 85 per cent of the world’s refugees are in developing countries.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there are already 2.5 million Afghan people who have left the country, including 4,000 with active claims for asylum in the UK. We are urging the government to grant those claims as soon as possible.
The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is in the country, monitoring the situation to work out what response is needed in Afghanistan and the wider region.
How does the Red Cross work with refugees, people seeking asylum and vulnerable migrants?
The British Red Cross is the UK’s largest provider of services to refugees, people seeking asylum, vulnerable migrants, and survivors of trafficking. In 2020 alone, we supported over 30,000 people in all stages of the asylum process.
It is the role of the British Red Cross to support people in crisis, both in the UK and overseas. Supporting vulnerable people, based on need alone and regardless of their nationality, race, political, religious beliefs or immigration status is central to our work.
We believe that people should have access to the support they need to stay safe and well regardless of their situation. Our ambition is to make sure ensure that anyone seeking a safer place to live has access to humanitarian protection and assistance and is supported to access their rights in a new country, like family reunion and education. We are proud to support people based on need and need alone.
You can stand with us for refugees by joining our Every Refugee Matters community.
What is the British Red Cross doing to help Afghan people arriving in the UK?
British Red Cross teams have been supporting hundreds of people in Heathrow, Leicester, Chelmsford, Colchester, Hertfordshire, Southampton, Hampshire, Derby, Cheshire, Birmingham, Brize Norton, and Wrexham in Wales.
Staff and volunteers have been welcoming people at airports – providing a compassionate ear and emotional support - and at hotels, giving out essential items like clothing and baby milk.
Experts from the British Red Cross Psychosocial Support Team have been deployed to support families arriving into airports in recognition of the traumas they may be coming from.
WE ARE PROVIDING KINDNESS AND REASSURANCE THAT THEY ARE IN A SAFE PLACE. THANKS TO THE BRITISH PUBLIC FOR THE AVALANCHE OF LOVE.Edmore Hute, refugee support manager
Edmore Hute, refugee support manager, said: “There’s hundreds of people who have arrived in the UK with their families fresh from a harrowing journey, leaving behind homes and loved ones in uncertainty. First and foremost we are providing kindness and reassurance that they are in a safe place, in a place of safety. A lot of these people have gone through very difficult journeys and people have left behind their homes and families, and everything they have known, so they are incredibly traumatised and in need of emotional support. Thanks to the British public for the avalanche of love."
We're also working quickly to source and provide items that these families need, like warm clothing and other essentials including soap, nappies and toothbrushes. While these families stay in quarantine hotels, we are also looking to provide some toys and activities for these families, to minimise the impact on mental health during their stay.
Abeda Sakha, a British Red Cross refugee services caseworker in Leicester, said:
“At the beginning it was really hard for me as well because I am an Afghan lady. To see them [like that] was a bit emotional.
“We have had weekly visits to the hotel to assess the families’ needs. I used my language skills – Dari and Pashtu – to find out how are they and what exactly they need.
At this point, we are not looking for donations of clothes for Afghan people from the public.
Hear from the staff and volunteers who have been at airports around the country, welcoming Afghan families to the UK
Faridun's family's search for safety kept them apart for four years