Forty years of war, chronic poverty, climate change-driven natural disasters, and now COVID-19 are a deadly combination for people in Afghanistan. Even before the latest escalation in violence, half the population required humanitarian assistance. 

If the crisis in Afghanistan is left unaddressed, 2021 is on track to be the deadliest year for Afghan civilians in over a decade. Civilian deaths and injuries reached record levels in the first half of the year, rising sharply since May. Women and children are increasingly bearing the brunt of the violence, today accounting for around half of all civilian casualties.

Unless world leaders act, 2021 is on track to be the deadliest year for Afghan civilians in over a decade. Women and children are increasingly bearing the brunt of the violence.
Photo: Haseeb Khalid/IRC

Since the start of this year more than 550,000 Afghans have been internally displaced as conflict and insecurity escalated, the humanitarian situation deteriorated and civilian casualties soared. Around half of these have been displaced since May, and 80% are women and girls. 

Many fled to Kabul in hopes of safety and are living in makeshift camps on the outskirts of the capital. They are just some of the 18.4 million Afghans who require urgent support in a country where four decades of violent conflict have resulted in a state of chronic humanitarian need. 

Eighteen million people in Afghanistan need urgent humanitarian assistance—a situation that is only worsening as the conflict intensifies.

Photo: Stefanie Glinski/IRC

The EU has a deep responsibility to the Afghan people - not least those who have worked tirelessly alongside European and US teams in the hope of building a brighter future for their country. Here’s a look at what Afghans need right now and what the EU can do to help.

Increase humanitarian support

Ramp up diplomatic pressure

Protect and uphold the rights of people forced to leave their homes

  1. Ensuring access to protection in EU territory for those fleeing violence, persecution and life threatening situations in Afghanistan
  2. Creating a safe and coordinated system to ensure Afghans seeking protection find safety and their claims are quickly processed
  3. Expanding opportunities for swift evacuation and the provision of humanitarian visas for people who are at high risk of persecution
  4. Upholding responsibilities under the EU’s family reunification directive and reducing bureaucratic barriers to allow people in Afghanistan to reunite with family in Europe, including those with pending or temporary status
  5. Stopping all forced returns of Afghan nationals to Afghanistan or the region, including asylum seekers who have had their claims rejected, by respecting the principle of non-refoulement* at all times 
  6. Fulfilling the obligation to re-evaluate asylum claims of Afghans who received negative decisions 
  7. Scaling up targeted support to neighbouring countries to mount a regional refugee response

*principle of non-refoulement = the prohibition on returning people to dangerous situations, including to countries where they may also be at risk of refoulement/return

Scale up resettlement