How the Finnish Red Cross has helped out in Afghanistan

Photo: Meer Abdullah / IFRC.

Two years after the Taliban’s rise to power, the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated even further.

The long-lasting humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan has deepened significantly over the past two years. The country's economy has taken a sharp downward turn, and the drought periods, strengthened further by climate change, have put a strain on the population. The situation has led to severe food insecurity and human suffering.

Now that international funders have withdrawn from the country, it cannot provide its citizens with basic services, such as health care and clean water. The position of women and girls has constantly deteriorated and there is a risk that they will be completely excluded from receiving aid, health care and education.

It is estimated that up to 28.8 million, i.e. two thirds of the country's population, are in need of humanitarian aid.

Long-term support and humanitarian aid needed

The Finnish Red Cross has supported the Afghan Red Crescent for decades. We have allocated our support mainly through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Over the past two years, we have promoted the availability of clean water and hygiene awareness and improved the water and sanitation facilities in schools. With our support, the mobile health teams of the Afghan Red Crescent have provided first aid, primary health care and vaccination services to people, covering also sexual and reproductive health services. The teams include both female and male employees, so they are able to also reach women and children.

We have also provided humanitarian aid that meets urgent needs. We have supported the IFRC's emergency aid operation from our own disaster fund and with funding granted by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. The emergency aid operation has focused on mitigating the food shortage with support for livelihoods and through food and cash aid, and it has reached more than 1.7 million people. In addition, we have supported hospitals, health centres and rehabilitation services for the disabled through the ICRC.

“The Red Cross and Red Crescent movement is in a unique position to provide aid throughout the country and reach those in need. The provision of humanitarian aid is vital. However, more long-term financial commitment and work are needed to ensure people’s basic services and survival,” says Karoliina Viita, humanitarian aid coordinator at the Red Cross.

Since August 2021, the Finnish Red Cross has allocated nearly EUR 3.7 million to Afghanistan from its disaster fund and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. We have supported emergency aid operations and long-term projects by providing financial and material aid as well as human resources.

“The Afghan Red Crescent and the entire Red Cross and Red Crescent movement are more necessary and meaningful than ever before. Supporting local operators in a challenging operating environment is especially critical as the most efficient and fastest help comes from close by,” Viita states.

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