A group of internally displaced Grade Three pupils draw during art class. The Kahdistan Primary School was built by UNHCR in 2020.

A group of internally displaced Grade Three pupils draw during art class. The Kahdistan Primary School was built by UNHCR in 2020.

As Afghanistan continues to face an unprecedent humanitarian crisis, a deadly earthquake dealt another heartbreaking blow to a country – and people – already experiencing significant hardship in their struggle for daily survival.

In late June 2022, the southeastern parts of the country were rocked by the worst earthquake to hit the country in the last 20 years. At least 770 people – including at least 155 children – were estimated to have been killed in the tragic incident.

In addition to deploying expert staff to the affected areas, UNHCR shipped urgently needed relief aid to help those who lost their homes and personal possessions.

“Families have lost loved ones, suffered injuries, and experienced significant trauma, while many people have lost their documents and children have been orphaned. We plan to support the affected people with their shelter and protection needs.” – UNHCR Afghanistan Representative Leonard Zulu

Afghanistan continues to be severely impacted by high levels of poverty, natural disasters, and COVID-19 – with many Afghan refugees living in Pakistan facing the impacts of recent flooding.

In 2021, more than 700,000 people had been forced from their homes due to conflict – 80 per cent of them are women and children. Since August 2021, Afghanistan’s women and girls have increasingly experienced limits on their access to education, an inability to freely move without a male relative, and enforced requirements to wear face coverings. Girls have been prevented from attending school above year six in most of the country.

Despite the unimaginable hardships and challenges, there were signs of hope on the horizon with efforts to help empower and educate women – such as the opening of a women’s business centre. UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner Kelly Clements was in Afghanistan for the inauguration of the centre, which created a space for women-run shops, as well as access to trainings in computer literacy and English language.

“The women (in Afghanistan) are extremely resilient. They talked about education. They talked about the need for livelihoods. They talked about wanting to be a part of public life in Afghanistan. They want to educate their girls, to be a part of shaping the future of the country.” – Deputy High Commissioner Kelly Clements.

The total number of internally displaced people as a result of conflict is now estimated at 3.5 million, with some 24.4 million people – 59 per cent of the population – will need humanitarian and protection assistance in 2022.

UNHCR continues its work inside the country to assist those displaced by conflict and disaster, and provide crucial aid to help meet the needs of the most vulnerable.

With your support, here is how UNHCR helped the people of Afghanistan so far in 2022:

  • 2.8 million people have been supported through UNHCR activities in 31 of the 34 provinces in the country
  • 389,000 people were provided with cash assistance
  • 600,000 displaced people across nearly all provinces of the country were provided with essential relief and assistance

Donor support remains vital as part of our ongoing response to provide lifesaving aid to the people of Afghanistan and host communities. Please visit www.unhcr.ca/afghanistan

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