Humanitarian aid in Afghanistan

The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has been difficult for years already. The underlying reasons include problems brought along by extensive long-term poverty, the difficult security situation and recurring natural disasters.

It was estimated that in 2018 there were 3.3 million people in need of humanitarian aid in Afghanistan. As many as 8.7 million people needed long-term recurring aid. Approximately 1.2 million people have been internally displaced.

In the appeal for emergency relief published by the UN in 2018, Afghanistan’s need for humanitarian aid was estimated to amount to roughly EUR 370 million. The humanitarian and political situation in Afghanistan is difficult, and the UN estimates that during 2018, the number of persons who are internally displaced due to the conflict in Afghanistan will increase to approximately 1.9 million.

There are more than 2.5 million registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan, Iran and other neighbouring countries of Afghanistan. In addition, there is a great number of unregistered refugees. The reintegration of returning refugees into society is a constant challenge for Afghanistan.

Finland has provided Afghanistan with humanitarian aid throughout the 2000s. Aid has been channelled through the UNHCR, UNICEF, the Finnish Red Cross, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the World Food Programme (WFP), among other organisations.

In 2018, Finland provided Afghanistan with humanitarian aid amounting to EUR 400 000.

Humanitarian mine action

Finland supports humanitarian mine action in Afghanistan, which is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. The sweeping of mines and other unexploded remnants of war is carried out especially in the northern and central parts of Afghanistan.

Finland supports minesweeping in northern and central Afghanistan. Photo: Halo Trust
Finland supports minesweeping in northern and central Afghanistan. Photo: Halo Trust

Finland’s aid for humanitarian mine action is channelled through the UN (United Nations Mine Action Service UNMAS) and the British organisation HALO Trust. In addition to minesweeping, people are trained on the risks of mines and victims are rehabilitated. As part of humanitarian mine action, the skills and ownership of Afghan authorities are improved.

The action creates conditions for individuals’ early recovery, the rebuilding of communities and long-term social development.

Finland has supported humanitarian mine action in Afghanistan since 1991. The total budget for supporting the activities of UNMAS and the HALO Trust in Afghanistan in 2016–2020 is EUR 3 million.

In 2017, the percentage of mined areas swept in Afghanistan reached 80. However, the number of mine victims has increased in recent years due to, for instance, the continuing armed conflict and the increasing use of improvised, or self-made, explosive devices.