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Two decades of war in Afghanistan, including a decade-long Soviet occupation and ensuing civil strife, have left Afghanistan impoverished and mired in an extended humanitarian crisis. Government infrastructure, including the ability to deliver the most basic health, education, and other social services, has collapsed. Significant resources are directed to the war effort. Severe restrictions by the Taliban, including a restriction on women working outside the home, have added to the impact of poverty, particularly on the many households lacking able-bodied adult men. The Taliban now controls about 90 percent of Afghanistan's territory.
Humanitarian prospects worsened sharply in Afghanistan in September 2001 due to developments both inside and outside the country. Osama bin Laden, who currently resides in Afghanistan under Taliban protection, is the leading suspect in the September 11 terrorist attack against the United States. Fears of a possible U.S. reprisal have triggered a population exodus from major Afghan cities, both towards other points in Afghanistan and towards the country's borders. International staff of most relief agencies has also withdrawn, leaving the status of relief programs in question at a critical moment. In addition, even prior to the September 11 there were signs that relations between the international community and the Taliban were worsening significantly. These new developments have added to an existing crisis of extensive displacement stemming from civil conflict and a debilitating three-year drought.
Numbers Affected at a Glance
Since September 11, large-scale population movements inside Afghanistan have been reported, particularly from the cities of Kabul, Kandahar, and Jalalabad. Some reports have indicated that an estimated one to two million people may be moving towards Afghanistan's borders. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has reported 15,000 new arrivals in Pakistan since September 11.
Since September 2000, civil strife and drought have driven an estimated 180,000 new refugees into Pakistan. The United Nations estimates that drought and conflict-affected internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Afghanistan number at least 900,000. Longer-term conflict-displaced estimates are as high as one million countrywide. Drought has affected at least 12 million Afghans. An estimated 2.6 million old caseload refugees from the Soviet occupation era remain outside Afghanistan's borders in Iran and Pakistan, according to UNHCR. Afghanistan's total population is estimated at nearly 26 million.
Total FY 2001 USG Assistance to Afghanistan............... $180,363,477
National Overview. Osama bin Laden, who currently resides in Afghanistan under Taliban protection, is the leading suspect in the September 11 terrorist attack against the United States. Fears of a possible U.S. reprisal have triggered major population movements in Afghanistan. Some reports indicate that as many as one to two million people may be moving towards Afghanistan's borders. These new movements have added to drought and conflict-related internal displacement from the last year of at least 900,000 people, plus a new refugee caseload in Pakistan since September 2000 of 180,000 people.
All international staff of U.N. agencies as well as those of most NGOs have left Afghanistan as well, leaving the status of many international assistance programs unclear. U.N. staff have left both Taliban and Northern Alliance-controlled areas. The U.N. has suspended non-lifesaving programs in Afghanistan until further notice, with the exception of food distributions, which continue to be carried out with local staff. There is concern that these programs will stop as well as local staff try to return to areas of origin in search of safety. Despite the pullout of U.N. staff, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) is currently developing a contingency plan to assist up to 7.5 million vulnerable Afghans within Afghanistan.
Afghanistan continues to suffer the effects of the third year of a nationwide drought, with particularly severe impacts in the west and north of the country. The drought has been compounded by a long-term decline in agricultural infrastructure.
Political Developments. Even before the events of September 11, relations between the international community and the Taliban were growing increasingly uncertain. The Taliban arrested eight international staff of the German NGO Shelter Now International (SNI/Germany) on August 5, and charged them with proselytizing, which carries penalties ranging from expulsion to death. (Note: A separate NGO, operating under the same name but based in the United States, is funded by USAID/OFDA. See "USG Humanitarian Assistance," below.) Efforts by the U.S. Consul General and other foreign diplomats to win the detainees' release were unsuccessful. On August 31, the Taliban shut down and deported the staff of two additional NGOs: International Assistance Mission and Serve, based upon alleged links with SNI/Germany. Following the arrests of SNI/Germany staff, Taliban officials had warned that other organizations would be investigated. In general, international relief agencies had reported that growing difficulties in working with the Taliban threatened to hamper relief efforts.
On September 9, Northern Alliance commander Ahmad Shah Masood was targeted in a bomb attack that ultimately proved fatal. It is unclear what effect Masood's death will have on the course of the Afghan war, although Massoud was considered an important factor in the cohesion of the Northern Alliance. Since the attack, there have been reports of intensified fighting, possibly due to efforts by Taliban forces seeking to gain advantage from the change in opposition leadership.
Refugees - Pakistan. As of September 19, UNHCR reported that up to 15,000 Afghans had arrived in Pakistan. Of these, 10,000 have found shelter in host families in and around Quetta, and another 5,000 are encamped near the Chaman border crossing. UNHCR reported that it is providing relief commodities to the new arrivals, including 2,000 tents, and 6,000 blankets.
At the Khyber Pass, another major crossing point near Peshawar, aid workers and journalists have been prevented from reaching the border, according to UNHCR. As a result, detailed information is not available at this time. According to UNHCR, Afghans unable to cross at closed official border crossings such as Torkham in the Khyber Pass are reportedly seeking out other routes across the long, porous Afghanistan-Pakistan border, or moving on to other locations within Afghanistan.
Refugees - Iran. In Iran, a September 16 press account reported that 10,000 Afghans had already crossed the border there. However, an Iranian government official denied reports of any new influx of Afghans, according to the official Iranian news agency (IRNA). As with Pakistan, the Iranian border with Afghanistan remains officially closed. The Government of Iran (GOI) has appealed for international assistance in the event of any refugee influx. According to UNHCR, the GOI and UNHCR are pre-positioning relief supplies along the border and are working together to identify potential refugee sites along the border.
Refugees - Tajikistan. Some 10,000 IDPs who have resided on islands in the Pyandj River along the Afghan-Tajik border after a successful Taliban offensive in Takhar Province in September 2000 remain in place, according to UNHCR. UNHCR reported that no new arrivals in that area have been reported, but local officials anticipate another influx should the situation further destabilize. Tajikistan has kept its border closed to refugees.
Central, Southern, and Eastern Regions. According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), up to 25 percent of Kabul's population may have left the city in the direction of Wardak and Kandahar to the southwest and Jalalabad, near the southeastern border with Pakistan. Kabul is home to an estimated 1,000,000 vulnerable people, including 100,000 IDPs, according to UNOCHA.
In Kandahar City, an estimated 100,000 people, or roughly half the city's population, have left for rural areas and towards the Pakistan border since September 11, according to UNOCHA. According to UNOCHA, there were an estimated 200,000 IDPs in Kandahar prior to September 11.
UNOCHA reported September 19 that up to 65 percent of Jalalabad's population may have left, mostly to remote villages in the region or to border areas in the hopes of crossing into Pakistan. Jalalabad's population is estimated at roughly 250,000 in a 1999 World Food Program (WFP) Vulnerability Assessment Mapping (VAM) report.
Northern Region. To date, there have been no reports of new movements of IDPs in the Northern Region, defined as Baghlan, Kunduz, Samangan, Balkh, Jozjan, Faryab, and Taliban-controlled areas of Takhar, since September 11. However, UNOCHA reported on September 19 that WFP had exhausted all of its food stocks in Mazar-e-Sharif, raising concerns that food may be cut off for thousands of IDP families dependent upon WFP assistance. Relief agencies consider the Northern Region as Afghanistan's worst affected and least-served region, and until September 11 a concerted effort was under way to boost aid agencies' capacity there. IDPs in the Northern Region, displaced by both drought and conflict, now number up to 300,000, according to the U.N.
Northeast. There have been no reports of population movements in the relatively small Northern Alliance-controlled Northeastern Region to date. However, relief agencies are concerned about the potential effects of a collapse of the Northern Alliance following the death of Ahmad Shah Masood (to date, there are no indications that such a collapse is imminent). IDPs in the Northeastern Region number an estimated 84,000, according to UNOCHA; the leading cause of displacement has been conflict.
Western Region. UNOCHA reported on September 19 that relief activities continue in Herat, where there are currently an estimated 200,000 IDPs, most of whom are displaced by the drought that has ravaged the surrounding western provinces of Badghis, Herat, Farah and Ghor. Recent relief activities included a WFP distribution of 733 MT of wheat for IDPs in four of Herat's six camps from September 12 - 18. Although UNHCR has reported that some people have begun to leave Herat, it is unclear how many people are moving.
Food Security. WFP reported that it currently has approximately two weeks worth of food aid stocks remaining in Afghanistan. Despite a pullout of international staff, WFP is continuing distribution of food with local staff. However, no new food assistance is coming into Afghanistan, due to the closure of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, fuel shortages, and a lack of commercial trucks.
Transportation capacity is rapidly diminishing within Afghanistan, as well. WFP is also concerned about its inability to monitor food without international staff, and the safety of its local staff should deliveries continue.
Commercial food transport has been hampered by the same problems facing food aid. Food prices are rising due to shortages, as well as a continuing fall in the value of the Afghani currency. Price increases, reportedly as high as 25 percent in some locations, can be expected to have a severe impact in a country with few income opportunities, and are believed to be one of the driving forces of displacement from cities such as Kabul in conjunction with fears of an attack.
The diminishment of food resources poses major concerns. Approximately 3.8 million Afghans are dependent upon WFP's current Emergency Operation (EMOP). Under WFP's new EMOP scheduled to begin November 1, some 5.5 million Afghans, or more than 21 percent of the country's population, would receive food aid. Any interruption in food aid at this time of year is particularly critical because Afghanistan's remote mountainous regions become inaccessible during winter, requiring the pre-positioning of food stocks before winter approaches in October and November.
USG food aid for the region will continue in transit, as a contingency in case access to Afghanistan opens up again, or in the event that refugee outflows to neighboring countries generate new emergency food requirements there.
USG Humanitarian Assistance
On September 22, 2000, Former Assistant Secretary Karl F. Inderfurth re-declared a complex humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan for FY 2001. In addition, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan William B. Milam issued a disaster declaration for Afghan refugees in Pakistan on February 2, 2001. To date, FY 2001 USG humanitarian assistance provided by USAID/OFDA, USAID/FFP, USDA, the Department of State's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (State/PRM), the joint Department of State/Department of Defense Demining Program, the Department of State's Bureau International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (State/INL) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) totals $177,088,887, including both assistance inside Afghanistan and assistance to Afghan refugees in neighboring countries.
Despite the pullout of international humanitarian personnel from Afghanistan, the USG remains committed to assisting vulnerable Afghans.
At this time, all expatriate staff of USAID/OFDA grantees have left Afghanistan. Some grantees are attempting to continue programs with local staff. USAID/OFDA is working with its grantees to determine the status of programs. Operational difficulties are currently preventing the provision of assistance to Afghanistan.
To respond to the Afghanistan crisis, USAID/OFDA deployed DART to Pakistan on June 17. The DART continues to operate in Islamabad. The DART is coordinating with the Pakistan-based Afghanistan relief community, including USG partners.
In April 2001, USAID/OFDA and State/PRM deployed an assessment team to western and northern Afghanistan including Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif to assess drought and nutrition conditions in affected areas.
First Airlift to Herat - 30,000 blankets from USAID/OFDA's stockpile to ICRC for drought-affected families in Ghor (including transport) $250,841 Second and third airlifts to Herat - 610 tents, 17,500 blankets, 4,800 five-gallon water jugs, four metric tons of high-protein biscuits, and three modified World Health Organization kits, each with sufficient supplies to treat 1,000 people for one month, via two USAID/OFDA-chartered planes on February 9 and 16 (including transport) $650,850
Airlift to Peshawar - 500 tents, 5,000 blankets and 100 rolls of plastic sheeting from USAID/OFDA's stockpile for consignment to IRC for use in the Jalozai and Shamshatoo Afghan refugee camps, plus two health kits (including transport) $239,000
Action Contre la Faim (ACF) - health, nutrition, and health education for 530,000 beneficiaries in Kabul and surrounding areas $1,483,000
ACTED - IDP camp management and support in Baghlan $200,000
ACTED - support via USAID/Almaty for shelter and nonfood assistance to Afghan IDPs. $50,000
CARE/US - food assistance for drought-affected populations in central, western, and southern Afghanistan. $1,235,000
CARE/US - livelihoods support for drought-affected populations in Wardak and Ghazni. $1,384,618
CARE/US - water supply and health education in Kabul $423,901
FAO - seed multiplication $250,000
GOAL - shelter, infrastructure, and agriculture displacement-prevention activities in Samangan $400,000
International Medical Aid (IMA) - health in Bamiyan and Samangan. $299,870
International Medical Corps (IMC) - health assistance for IDPs and local residents in Herat. $1,135,000
IRC - IDP assistance in partnership with local NGOs, including management and support for Sakhi camp for 5,000 families in Mazar-e-Sharif 1,000,000
IRC - support for distribution of USAID/OFDA airlifted relief commodities for Pakistan's Jalozai and Shamshatoo camps $50,000
Mercy Corps International (MCI) - emergency water relief and agricultural livelihoods support aimed at preventing displacement in Helmand. $428,666
MCI - assistance to 3,000 war-affected IDPs with nonfood relief commodities to meet basic heating, lighting, and cooking needs in Takhar and Badakshan. $1,494,000
MCI - support to vulnerable populations affected by the Taliban poppy ban in the Helmand Valley $250,000
Save the Children/US (SC/US) - drought-related relief activities in a range of sectors, including health with a focus on maternal and child care; winterization for IDPs; and cash-for-work drought activities including well and kareze repair and digging; and wheat seed distribution. Benefits populations in Andkhoi, Faryab; Mazar-e-Sharif, Balkh; and Kabul $1,500,000
SC/US - nutrition surveillance in northern Afghanistan $306,488
Shelter Now International (SNI/US) - food and nonfood assistance to support host families sheltering 5,650 war-affected IDPs in the Rostaq area of Takhar $320,400
SNI/US - food-for-work construction of 4200 shelters plus water/sanitation support in Herat's Maslakh IDP camp $1,500,000
Shuhada - health worker training in the Hazarajat region $70,000
UNCHS/Habitat - shelter for 12,500 IDP families in Herat. $1,000,000
UNCHS/Habitat - urban community-based drought and displacement response countrywide $500,000
UNCHS/Habitat - emergency solid waste collection in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kandahar, Herat, and Farah $362,727
UNICEF - nutrition surveillance, health, and water/sanitation activities country-wide $1,000,000
UNOCHA -support for the purchase of nonfood relief commodities for IDPs ($200,000); support for WFP-managed food programs and implementing partners ($300,000); and support for continued air transport services for humanitarian goods and cargo ($100,000). $600,000
UNOCHA - support for humanitarian coordination. $600,000
Total USAID/OFDA FY 2001 $18,934,362
WFP - 63,810 MT of P.L. 480 Title II wheat and complementary commodities, including a contribution for Afghan refugees in Pakistan of 4,000 MT valued at $1.9 million Total USAID/FFP FY 2001 $31,200,000
WFP - 240,200 MT of 416(b) wheat
Total USDA FY 2001. $99,800,000
(Note: State/PRM contributions to ICRC and UNHCR are for regional programs. Figures for Afghanistan-specific activities are estimates based on a percentage of the regional total.)
ICRC - State/PRM provides $9.2 million support for South Asia activities, a portion of which supports victims of conflict in Afghanistan. $5,850,000
UNHCR - State/PRM provides $17.5 million in support of UNHCR's South Asia programs, a portion of which goes to programs benefiting Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran as well as returnees in Afghanistan. $13,900,000
UNOCHA - Field coordination efforts in Afghanistan. $500,000
Support to NGO programs benefiting Afghans. $5,309,590
Total State/PRM FY 2001 $25,559,590
State/Humanitarian Demining (HDP)
The U.S. Humanitarian Demining Program provides $1.1 million in support of HALO Trust, a British demining organization, and $1.7 million in financial and in-kind contributions to the Mine Action Program for Afghanistan. Total State/HDP FY 2001 $2,800,000
U.N. Drug Control Program (UNDCP) - assistance with crop substitution for former poppy farmers affected by the Taliban poppy ban in Nangarhar. Total State/INL FY 2001 $1,500,000
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
UNICEF - support for polio eradication in Afghanistan.
Total CDC FY 2001 $569,525
TOTAL USG Humanitarian Assistance FY 2001................ $180,363,477
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