News Release

Ottawa, CANADA – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in Canada is appealing to the generosity of Canadians and the government for financial support to help 28 million people in acute need in Afghanistan and the region.

“Today, Afghanistan is facing a perfect storm of political upheaval, economic collapse, climate change, and the pandemic that threatens the lives and livelihoods of millions of Afghans,” said Rema Jamous Imseis, UNHCR Representative in Canada.

“The government and the People of Canada have always responded favourably to our appeals. Now, more than ever, we need massive solidarity and help to respond to the growing needs of displaced people in Afghanistan and the region.”

Earlier today, the United Nations and non-governmental organizations launched joint response plans aimed at delivering vital humanitarian relief to 22 million people in Afghanistan and support 5.7 million displaced Afghans and local communities in five neighbouring countries.

The humanitarian and refugee response plans combined require over US$5 billion in international funding in 2022.

People in Afghanistan face one of the world’s most rapidly growing humanitarian crises. Half of the population face acute hunger, over 9 million people are displaced, millions of children are out of school, the fundamental rights of women and girls are under attack, farmers and herders are struggling amid the worst drought in decades, and the economy is in free fall. Without support, tens of thousands of children are at risk of dying from malnutrition as basic health services have collapsed.

Conflict has subsided, but violence, fear and deprivation continue to drive Afghans to seek safety and asylum across borders, particularly in Iran and Pakistan. More than 2.2 million registered refugees and a further 4 million Afghans with different statuses are hosted in the neighbouring countries. This has stretched the capacity of the communities hosting them, and they also need support.

The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, said: “Events in Afghanistan over the past year have unfolded with dizzying speed and with profound consequences for the Afghan people. The world is perplexed and looking for the right way to react. Meanwhile, a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe looms.

“My message is urgent: don’t shut the door on the people of Afghanistan. Humanitarian partners are on the ground, and they are delivering, despite the challenges. Help us scale up and stave off wide-spread hunger, disease, malnutrition and ultimately death by supporting the humanitarian plans we are launching today.”

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said: “The international community must do everything it can to prevent a catastrophe in Afghanistan, which would not only compound suffering but would drive further displacement both within the country and throughout the region. At the same time, we must also urgently scale up the response in support of refugees and the communities that have hosted them for generations. The needs of refugees cannot be dismissed, nor can the generosity of host countries be taken for granted. They need support and they need it today.”

The Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan requires $4.44 billion, the largest humanitarian appeal ever launched. If funded, aid organizations can ramp up the delivery of life-saving food and agriculture support, health services, treatment for malnutrition, emergency shelter, access to water and sanitation, protection and emergency education.

The Afghanistan Situation Regional Refugee Response Plan requires $623 million in funding for 40 organizations working in protection, health and nutrition, food security, shelter and non-food items, water and sanitation, livelihoods and resilience, education, and logistics and telecoms.

In addition to appealing for financial support, UNHCR Canada has been asking governments to scale up their resettlement and other humanitarian admission schemes to help vulnerable Afghans.

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