The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has severely worsened since the change of political power last year. Asif Khan, Head of Office for the German Red Cross in Islamabad, Pakistan, has visited Kabul in July to assess the living conditions and needs of the families in Afghanistan.
In July this year, almost a year after the Taliban took the power in Afghanistan in August 2021, I travelled for the German Red Cross to Kabul to assess the humanitarian situation and identify the most pressing needs.
It might sound odd, but there are some people, who appreciate the current situation for the time being because the fighting of decades has seemingly stopped. On the other hand, there is much uncertainty and distress about the future, seeing how the humanitarian situation is worsening. And still, it is not clear what further political decisions will be taken and how they will affect the population.
There is a lack of cash since bank systems are not functioning. Bad economic conditions decrease the availability of food, clean drinking water, medicine and other essential items. There is a lot of displacement within Afghanistan. In the search of income opportunities, people move to urban areas. There they are often living under very challenging and poor conditions. For the winter many families lack adequate shelter. Fundamental services remain extremely limited, access to schools and health services is hampered, there are barely sufficient income opportunities.
The likelihood of young girls and women to go to school or university is shrinking. Families are worried, that their daughters will not be able to achieve any school education at all. Many well-educated people have left Afghanistan already. This brain drain weakens the public structure additionally.
Currently women can work only in medical services, education and international humanitarian organisations. In public places you see only few women and it is not possible to talk to them. But I had the possibility to speak to women working on an international level for the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. They say: “We are lucky, that we still can come to the office.”
One national society can benefit from the other. They are trusted partners for 30 years. Our project-staff is located in Islamabad; culturally, we both countries have a lot in common, for example we speak the same language, which gives us access to confidence.
A lot of well-trained people have left the country. So, at first there is the requirement to maintain and strengthen the remaining capacities of the Afghan Red Crescent and reinforce their strategic plan for humanitarian action.
The most crucial approach to aid is to strengthen livelihood. That means, we must find ways to empower people, to buy food and water for their families themselves. But, of course, the precondition for this is to involve people and to offer them trainings and vocational perspectives, for example by new technics in agriculture or by managing an own vegetable garden – in the sense of: “Don’t give the people a fish, make them learn to get a fish.”
I see a long way to go. I wish that people see peace, they need to have peace. They need to have human dignity and fundamental rights. Education is a human right; health is a human right. Dignity as a human being is a human right. All people in Afghanistan need to have a normal life. That is what I wish for the country.