- Afghanistan is ranked 181 out of 182 countries on the Human Development Index.
- The ongoing and intensifying armed conflict in Afghanistan heavily impacts an already vulnerable population. Some 7.4 million Afghans are food-insecure, while another 8.5 million are on the borderline of food insecurity.
- More than 250,000 people are internally displaced.
- Natural disasters, such as floods, droughts, and earthquakes are a regular occurrence and affect on average 400,000 people each year.
- Humanitarian action is hampered by insecurity and limited access to large parts of the country.
Humanitarian coordination is an important challenge within Afghanistan. The list of organizations involved in humanitarian affairs is extensive: national and local authorities, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, United Nations agencies, and over a hundred national and international NGOs. In addition, the international military is involved in providing assistance, notably through Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs); and the lines between the distinct roles and responsibilities of the military and humanitarian aid workers tend to blur. The security situation is another major challenge.
Large parts of the country are inaccessible for humanitarians, because of the ongoing conflict and criminal activity. More importantly, humanitarian aid workers – both United Nations and NGOs – are a target. The Taliban attack on 28 October 2009 on a guesthouse in Kabul which killed five United Nations staff tragically underlines this point. With so many different humanitarian needs and so many actors – and the dire security situation and the resulting lack of humanitarian access – OCHA is mandated to support the Humanitarian Coordinator to coordinate the humanitarian response.
At the time of writing of this report, the United Nations has temporarily relocated non-essential international staff, while additional security measures are being taken. The United Nations, including OCHA, will not leave Afghanistan. At the same time, balancing the humanitarian imperative with the duty to ensure staff safety, OCHA will re-assess the way it operates and its programme priorities.
In 2010, OCHA will seek to improve coordination between the military and the humanitarian community. It will continue do so both at the capital level and in the field. By engaging with national authorities, the international military (including related Provincial Reconstruction Teams), Member States, and others, OCHA will support the DSRSG/RC/HC in creating an operational environment that allows humanitarian access, and in which humanitarian assistance is impartial, neutral and based on needs only. Through advocacy and constructive engagement with relevant actors, OCHA aims to increase understanding of and adherence to agreed upon civil-military guidelines and humanitarian principles in general – thus enhancing the protection of civilians and improving humanitarian access.
OCHA will continue its role as inter-cluster coordinator. Because of the complexity of the humanitarian situation and the security situation in Afghanistan, a coordinated approach is a condition sine qua non to effective relief delivery. To that end, OCHA will participate in UN system-wide planning and coordination mechanisms to ensure that an integrated approach takes account of humanitarian principles. To properly assess and quantify humanitarian needs, OCHA will further strengthen its IM activities. Following best practices and applicable global standards, OCHA will provide a detailed analysis of the evolving humanitarian situation based on data collected through unified methodologies, common benchmarks and indicators.
Based on this analysis, OCHA will facilitate the development of a common humanitarian response strategy, to be broadly supported by the humanitarian community, government and donor community. Finally, OCHA will manage a $5 million ERF. The ERF – expected to be operational by the end of 2009 – will provide the humanitarian community, and especially NGOs, with rapid funding, facilitating the response to unforeseen emergencies.