Afghanistan in crisis: how you can help
The British Red Cross has launched an appeal for the people of Afghanistan, as millions face severe food shortages and hunger Last updated 25 November 2021
It's been three 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 severe drought and conflict.
The British Red Cross launched the Afghanistan Crisis Appeal to help meet people’s basic needs.
Nearly 23 million people are experiencing severe food shortages and hunger in Afghanistan right now. 3.2 million are children under five, who are likely to experience acute malnutrition by the new year.
On top of this, a brutal winter is looming and Covid-19 cases have spiralled, with around 50 per cent of tests proving positive. Many people have fled their homes and have little shelter. The situation has been compounded by years of drought and conflict.
Weeks of heavy fighting in big cities like Kandahar, Herat and Lashkar Gahar has damaged homes, hospitals and infrastructure. Afghanistan is a country on its knees.
Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement operations continue in Kabul and across Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has endured years of drought.
Watch British Red Cross's head of humanitarian policy Maryann Horne describe the desperate situation faced by people in Afghanistan.Donate to the Afghanistan appeal
Emergency in Afghanistan
Here in the UK, our teams have supported over 15,300 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?
If you have family affected by developments in Afghanistan the British Red Cross International Family Tracing service might be able to help.
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 run over 150 health centres and clinics, including 36 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. Teams are also distributing essentials items, like food, water and cash to families.
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.
22.8 million people, meanwhile, are struggling with acute food shortages due to conflict, Covid-19, high food prices and unemployment. And 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?
We welcome the UK Government’s announcement of a resettlement programme that will provide safety for Afghans in need of protection. 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.
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 3,000 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
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