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Afghan girl in school at chalkboard teaching lesson to fellow classmates.
Uncertain future


The International Rescue Committee provides vital support to Afghans who have endured three decades of violent conflict as well as natural disasters.

Country facts
  • Population: 30 million
  • People affected by crisis: Nearly 9 million
  • Rank in Human Development Index: 171 of 188
IRC response
  • Started work in Afghanistan: 1988

Afghanistan crisis briefing

Plagued by decades of violent conflict and natural disasters, Afghanistan has created one of the largest refugee populations in the world. The IRC provides humanitarian relief and recovery assistance to those affected by crises.

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What caused the current crisis in Afghanistan?

Since the international community withdrew numerous humanitarian and security operations in 2014, Afghanistan has struggled with a declining economy and dwindling security.

In October 2015, a massive earthquake destroyed thousands of homes, killed hundreds of people and displaced many more.

Violent conflict continues to disrupt the lives of millions who increasingly must fend for themselves. In addition, Afghanistan has had to cope an influx of 110,000 people fleeing fighting in neighboring Pakistan.

What are the main humanitarian challenges in Afghanistan?

Despite many years of humanitarian aid, Afghanistan’s government has struggled to provide clean water, electricity, safe roads and education services for its people. As a result, nine million Afghans remain in need of food, medical care, and other lifesaving support.

Due to ongoing conflict and frequent natural disasters, more than 1 million Afghans remain displaced.

Women and children are frequently subjected to violence, abuse and forced labor. Most lack access to health care, education and legal services.

How does the IRC help in Afghanistan?

Our mission is to help people whose lives are shattered by conflict and disaster to recover and gain control of their futures.

The IRC began work in Afghanistan in 1988, launching relief programs for people displaced by the invasion of the Soviet Union. We continued to provide aid under Taliban rule and expanded our community development projects after the Taliban was ousted. We now work with thousands of villages across nine provinces, with Afghans making up more than 99% of IRC staff in the country.

As Afghanistan struggles to recover from ongoing conflict and natural disasters, the IRC:

  • works with local communities to identify, plan and manage their own development projects;
  • provides safe learning spaces in rural areas;
  • provides uprooted families with tents, clean water, sanitation and other basic necessities;
  • helps people find employment.

What still needs to be done?

As Afghanistan emerges from decades of neglect and modest gains, the IRC’s experience and expertise are more valuable than ever. We pledge to put the needs of those most vulnerable—women, children and the elderly—at the forefront of our efforts, and to achieve measurable improvements in education, health, decision-making power and economic well-being..

We will continue to support Afghans forced from their homes by crisis, expanding our reach to rural regions that have received little or no aid. We’ll also continue to partner with local communities to help them launch their own development projects.

Our work will focus on the following areas:


The IRC will build on our extensive experience in community-based education by training teachers and supplying classrooms.

We will work to ensure that women and girls have equal access to literacy and numeracy training, as well as social-emotional and livelihoods skills training.


The IRC will build safe and easily accessible water and sanitation facilities. We will also promote hygiene and prevention programs to curtail the onset of illness and spread of disease.


The IRC will continue to foster governing systems that empower underrepresented voices. We will also educate communities about property and other rights.

We will provide women and girls with the skills they need to make the best decisions for their health, education, and livelihoods.

Economic wellbeing

In order to ensure all people have opportunities to earn an income, meet basic needs and eventually build assets, the IRC will provide skills-based training and apprenticeship programs for high-demand jobs.

As in all our efforts, the IRC will strive to reach more people more quickly, increase the effectiveness of our work, listen to the concerns of those affected by our work, and hold ourselves accountable for results.

Download the IRC Afghanistan strategy action plan to learn more about our program priorities from through 2020.

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