Humanitarian assistance

The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has been severe for years. More than a half of the population are in need of humanitarian assistance. The reasons stem from problems associated with widespread and long-term poverty, a difficult security situation, natural disasters accelerated by climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the Taliban's takeover, the humanitarian crisis has further worsened.

Afghanistan is turning into one of the most severe humanitarian crises in the world. More than half of the 40 million people in Afghanistan are estimated to need humanitarian assistance. The humanitarian and political situation in Afghanistan is difficult.  The UN’s appeal for more than USD 5 billion in emergency relief in 2022 is the largest ever appeal for a single country.

Over two million registered Afghan refugees are staying in Pakistan, Iran and the other neighbouring countries of Afghanistan. In addition, there are many unregistered refugees, because it has been exceedingly difficult to collect data on migration since August 2021. 

Returning refugees' reintegration into society in Afghanistan is a long-term challenge. Afghan refugees constitute the second largest refugee population in the world.

Finland has granted humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan throughout the 21st century. Assistance has been channelled, for example, via the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Finnish Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the World Food Programme (WFP).

After the Taliban’s takeover, Finland has allocated development cooperation funds to humanitarian assistance. In 2021, Finland’s humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan quadrupled, totalling EUR 12.5 million. The funding was used for providing food assistance and clean water, helping children who suffer from malnutrition, offering protection for refugees and treating war-wounded people as well as to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Humanitarian mine action

Finland supports humanitarian mine action in Afghanistan, which is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world.  Mines and unexploded remnants of war are cleared 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 supports humanitarian mine action through the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and the British HALO Trust organisation. In addition to mine clearance, men and women are trained on the risks of mines and victims are rehabilitated.

These actions create preconditions for individuals' early recovery, reconstruction of communities, and more long-term development of societies.

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 2021–2024 is EUR 4 million.