Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund Annual Report 2021 – Afghanistan



2021 in review


Humanitarian situation in 2021

Forty years of war, recurring natural disasters, chronic poverty and the COVID-19 pandemic have been a deadly combination for Afghans in 2021. At the start of the year, 18.4 million people (nearly half of population) needed humanitarian aid to survive, while tens of millions of people needed social assistance to cope with the negative effects of the pandemic.
Food insecurity soared and malnutrition, especially among women and children, was common.
Starting the year as one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan deteriorated sharply in 2021 due to severe drought, heightened conflict dynamics and the abrupt suspension of funding for the international development after the Taliban took control of the country on August 15. The conflict, coupled with political and social upheaval and economic collapse, has thrown millions more people into dire circumstances. By the end of the year, the 2022 Humanitarian Needs Overview identified 24.4 million people in need, a year-on-year increase of 33%.
The 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan for Afghanistan aimed to meet these critical needs for 15.7 million of the most vulnerable people in an extremely difficult operating environment, at an initial cost of $1.3 billion. In response to increased humanitarian needs, a flash appeal was launched in September, bringing the overall humanitarian need to $1.5 billion to reach 17.7 million people.

An armed conflict

The fast-paced conflict of the first seven months of 2021 has harmed the people of Afghanistan. Civilian casualties in the first half of 2021 have reached record highs, with a particularly sharp increase in killings and injuries since May 2021, when international military forces began their withdrawal and fighting intensified¹. 2

The number of women and children killed and injured in the first six months of 2021 was almost double the corresponding figure for 2020, and higher than any year since 2009.

Explosive ammunition

While the significant decrease in armed conflict in most parts of Afghanistan after August 15 resulted in a drastic reduction in civilian casualties from ground combat and airstrikes, civilian casualties from improvised explosive devices (IEDs ) and explosive remnants of war (ERW) remained high. Afghanistan has one of the highest levels of explosive contamination in the world and from August 15 to December 31, more than 1,050 civilian casualties, including more than 350 civilian deaths, were recorded.

Protection and human rights

According to the Global Women’s Peace and Security Index for 2021-2022, Afghanistan is the worst place to be a woman or a girl. The collapse of the previous Afghan government and the completion of the Taliban takeover of the country in August led to an immediate setback in the rights of girls and women, including reversals in access to education, justice, jobs, services, opportunities and freedom of movement. .

Prolonged severe drought

A national drought was officially declared in June 2021, the worst in three decades. About 80% of the country was experiencing severe or severe drought. Unusually low rainfall and failed harvests added to concurrent food, health and income crises.

Economic crisis and livelihoods

The sharp economic downturn, driven by aid and asset freezes, as well as disruptions in the financial sector, have plunged Afghanistan into a severe livelihoods crisis accompanied by spiraling poverty. Millions of already vulnerable Afghans who suffered a sudden loss of income and the depletion of family reserves have begun to resort to dangerous coping strategies to survive, raising concerns about the protection of women and children from the exploitation and abuse, including trafficking, sale of children, early or forced. marriage, recruitment and use of children by the armed forces and child labour.

Food insecurity and malnutrition

In one of the world’s worst food insecurity and malnutrition crises, Afghanistan began the year with 16.9 million people in “crisis” and “emergency” food insecurity. Nearly one in two children under 5 and one in four pregnant and breastfeeding women face acute malnutrition. Drought and economic shocks pushed these numbers up during the year.

Growing health crisis

A complex interplay of factors contributes to the very poor health outcomes of many Afghans. The largest proportion of deaths (43%) is caused by communicable, maternal, prenatal and nutritional conditions. Women and children have limited access to health care, leading to maternal and child mortality.
In 2021, four cases of wild poliomyelitis were reported in the country. Challenges with door-to-door vaccination campaigns are likely to exacerbate this problem in 2022. Afghanistan is grappling with cases of acute chronic watery diarrhea (AWD) and outbreaks of measles and dengue fever. Similarly, the 2018 National Mental Health Survey found that around 50% of people in Afghanistan suffer from depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress due to violence and other factors. COVID-19 continued to be a serious threat, compounded by low adherence to preventive measures and low vaccination rates (11% at the end of the year, with a significant gender imbalance).
The health sector has been financed almost entirely by development funds, the suspension of which crippled health systems nationwide after the Taliban takeover in August. Comprehensive and immediate support is needed to keep health systems functioning.
Additionally, the closure of most land and air trade routes following the August events also disrupted the import of essential pharmaceutical supplies.
Internal displacement and returns Armed conflict, drought, economic collapse and a change of regime have contributed to further displacement in 2021. More than 700,000 people have been identified as having been displaced by the conflict. Conflict-related displacements have been recorded in all but one province and more than half of all those displaced in 2021 were children. Compared to 2020, the number of people displaced by the conflict has increased by almost 80%.
Displaced people, particularly women, children, minorities, and child or female-headed households often live in overcrowded settlements, characterized by limited access to safe shelter, clean water and sanitation facilities. sanitation, and increased exposure to protection threats, such as forced evictions, status-based discrimination, child rights violations and child labor, family separation and gender-based violence (GBV).

Access constraints and attacks on aid workers

After extremely high levels of armed conflict in the first part of the year, the reduction in active conflict after August has allowed for improved physical access to more parts of the country, allowing aid workers to more easily and safely reach communities in unserved and underserved areas. Nevertheless, 2,085 incidents were recorded by the Humanitarian Access Group (HAG) of barriers to access faced by humanitarians, the most ever recorded by the HAG. These were mainly related to movement restrictions, violence against personnel and their facilities, military operations and humanitarian interference.
In 2021, 36 humanitarian personnel were killed, 121 injured, 60 kidnapped and 100 detained. Attacks on aid workers in Afghanistan remain at an unacceptable level and demonstrate the continued need to prioritize security risk management and the coordination of humanitarian organizations.


United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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