International NGO Muslim Hands has come to the aid of people in Afghanistan by providing £650,000 worth of emergency humanitarian aid just this year alone. The country has been facing an ongoing humanitarian crisis, that continues to reach unprecedented levels, leaving millions of Afghans struggling to survive. A collapsed economy and sky rocketing food prices means that hunger is widespread, with ninety percent of the population food insecure. The UK announced its aid budget cuts in August by seventy-six percent for Afghanistan, which means that more Afghans are likely to join those on the verge of starvation, as emergency aid reaches fewer people. Muslim Hands has been working in Afghanistan for twenty years providing emergency aid, winter relief as well as long-term interventions such as WASH and orphan sponsorship.
For a four-month period, Muslim Hands is supporting ten bread bakeries in Kabul, from August to November, aiming to reach 10,000 people every day with flat bread, a fundamental staple as part of the Afghan diet. Emergency food parcels have continued to be distributed, reaching over 3,000 families, with each parcel containing nutritious staples such as flour, rice, and kidney beans.
Towards the end of 2023, Afghanistan was hit by a devastating earthquake in the early hours of 7th October in the region of Herat. Over 3,000 people were killed mainly women and children, and numerous villages were decimated with 1300 homes destroyed. Those impacted in Herat lost everything, with no choice but to sleep outdoors, the realities of the harsh winter months are now being felt. Muslim Hands provided over £110,000 worth of emergency aid, which included food parcels as well as blankets, hygiene kits and clothing.
Asif from Herat province was impacted by the earthquake, he told our teams: ‘There were eleven people in my family, five of them were killed and six of them are still alive. I lost my two sons, my sister-in-law along with her children. We also lost our livestock and everything we owned is now buried under the rubble. Nothing is left. The weather here is cold, its unbearable. The nights are particularly cold, and we urgently need shelter for the upcoming harsh winter months.’
Since 2001, at least 5.9 million Afghans have fled their homeland or been internally displaced. Many are now living in informal settlements, that often leave them facing difficult environmental conditions and illness. The recent order by the Pakistan government requesting 1.7 million Afghans to leave Pakistan, with some having settled in the country for nearly twenty years, will return with much uncertainty and worries of a bleak future, with no shelter and employment. These ongoing deportations from various countries are likely to worsen the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. Since the order of leave from Pakistan, Muslim Hands has provided 6,000 cooked meals daily to nearly 300,000 returnees on the Torkham border.
With the harsh winter conditions now being felt and snowfall already reported, many of those returning may settle in camps, facing what possibly could be another harsh winter. Last year Afghanistan faced its harshest winter in over a decade, where temperatures can drop as low as minus 35 degrees. Already millions of Afghans are unable to protect themselves from the elements, unable to afford the basics of fuel or coal. Muslim Hands will be providing £50,000 worth of winter aid including blankets, winter clothing, food, and fuel.
Yasrab Shah, Muslim Hands Fundraising Director said: ‘We are humbled by the generosity of our donors, who continue to give so we can reach more people every year. They have enabled us to be respond to the needs of the people all year-round including pivotal times such as emergencies. With our winter distributions underway, £600,000 will provide essential items to some of the world’s poorest communities. The people of Afghanistan continue to face hardship upon hardship and with the scale of our emergency response just in this year alone, shows how important our intervention is, which can mean the difference between life and death.’