The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has been severe for years. 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.
Approximately half of the 40 million people in Afghanistan are estimated to need humanitarian assistance. As many as 8.7 million people would need long-term and consistent assistance. The humanitarian and political situation in Afghanistan is difficult. According to the UN's Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP), the need for humanitarian aid in Afghanistan in 2021 was estimated to be EUR 1.3 billion.
Over two million registered Afghan refugees are staying in Pakistan, Iran and the other neighbouring countries of Afghanistan. Moreover, there are plenty of unregistered asylum seekers. Returning refugees' re-integration into society in Afghanistan is a continuing challenge. There are also approximately 4 million internally displaced persons. Afghan refugees constitute the second largest refugee population in the world.
Finland has given humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan starting from the early years of 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).
In 2021, Finland's humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan will amount to EUR 6.5 million. The funding will be used to provide food aid and clean water, care for malnourished children, protection for refugees, and to treat people injured in the war 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 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. As part of humanitarian mine action, the skills and ownership of Afghan authorities are improved.
These actions create conditions 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.
80 per cent of Afghanistan had been cleared of mines by 2018. However, the number of landmine victims has increased in recent years, among other things due to continuing armed conflicts and increased use of improvised explosives.