Humanitarian Crisis Worsens; IRC Aid for Afghan Refugees Continues
“There was a serious humanitarian crisis in this region before the September 11 terrorist attacks, with over one million people displaced by war and the effects of a devastating drought, and millions of others struggling every day to survive,” said Hanson. “Thousands more people are said to be fleeing cities now, fearing retaliatory attacks by the United States.”
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees issued a statement Monday saying many Afghans are heading to the Pakistan and Iran borders. However the statement notes that the two countries, already host to millions of Afghan refugees, had previously closed their borders to refugee flows.
With borders closed, Afghan refugees trying to flee have nowhere to go.
“These are people who have suffered so much – civil war for two decades, three years of drought, extreme poverty, economic stagnation and severe political repression,” Hanson says. “The only thing they want is to keep their families alive and that will be an uphill battle for the displaced as winter approaches. The humanitarian needs in this country are immense.”
Delivering Aid in Afghanistan and Pakistan
The IRC works in several regions of Afghanistan, providing emergency and rehabilitation services.
- Western Provinces – In Herat, the IRC is constructing sanitation facilities to improve health for displaced Afghans and will resume the distribution of supplies to help the displaced survive the winter months. We’re also providing agricultural and food aid programs in the region.
- Northern Provinces – With the aid of local organizations, the IRC has recently constructed an emergency camp for newly displaced Afghans in Mazar-i-Sharif, and is providing shelter assistance, sanitation improvements, water supply systems, and food distribution programs. In and around Mazar, the IRC is providing mobile health and food distributions services to displaced persons in other makeshift settlements.
- Eastern Provinces – The IRC has been working in areas around Kabul, offering reintegration assistance to returned refugees with projects in agricultural assistance, health education, and infrastructure rehabilitation.
The IRC has also been working in Pakistan since 1980, implementing extensive programs for Afghan refugees in a variety of sectors:
- Emergency Programs — The IRC launched emergency programs in Pakistan at the onset of last winter, as thousands of Afghan refugees poured across the border to escape hunger and civil war. The IRC is providing basic necessities, including water and sanitation, at two large squalid refugee camps – New Shamshatoo and New Jalozai, where tens of thousands of refugees have taken shelter under flimsy sheets of plastic.
- Education — For nearly two decades, the IRC has been providing primary and secondary education to Afghan refugee children in Pakistan, with an emphasis on classes for girls. We support 37 schools and 54 community-based classes in Peshawar and in the outlying refugee villages throughout the Northwestern Frontier Province. The program includes the training of teachers in all subjects. Teachers are also trained in health education – to pass on health messages on disease prevention and hygiene to refugee mothers.
- Support for Local Aid Groups — The IRC provides support to local aid groups and refugee community organizations implementing projects in the areas of microenterprise, education, vocational training, agriculture and engineering, with an emphasis on under-served areas, minority populations, and women.
- Water Supply — The IRC maintains and improves wells in 63 refugee villages throughout the frontier province.
- Health Care — We operate 11 health programs that provide curative and preventive health services to 136,000 Afghan refugees in 12 settlements. The IRC also operates three clinical laboratories, one dental clinic and an emergency obstetrics care center.
The American Institute of Philanthropy gives the IRC an A+.
Charity Navigator gave the IRC its highest rating of four stars.
IRC meets all 20 of BBB Wise Giving Alliance’s accountability standards.
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