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Published on 25 January 2022

For the past five months, during the same period as COP, Christmas and new Covid restrictions have come and gone, I have sat at my desk and worried about Afghanistan.

For the avoidance of doubt, my job is not to worry but to write about the countries and communities who have been hardest hit by climate change, Covid, conflict and food insecurity. Alongside the excellent Christian Aid Scotland communications team, I write and proof news articles, social media posts and funding applications. We inspire supporters from all backgrounds, showing how their generosity is helping people take back control of their lives when life has thrown them into the most difficult circumstances.

The Afghan-born poet, Rumi, says “Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure.”

And we see these treasures over and over again at Christian Aid. Every gift, no matter what size, turns lives around. Crops get replanted, freshwater ponds are created, locusts are dispersed, innovative ways of storing and preparing food are trialled.

Sometimes the need is immense and urgent; sometimes the road to resilience is slow and steady.
But there is always a moment after Christian Aid Week, or a Christmas fundraiser or a Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal when stories of hope start to trickle back in. When, thanks to your support, we can write about homes being rebuilt in Haiti, pregnant women giving birth to healthy babies after Cyclone Idai, and new businesses being started in Malawi.

Afghanistan is different. The country lies in ruins.

Economic collapse has compounded the devastating impacts of a changing government, Covid and drought. Families are selling the clothes off their backs and the children from their cots in order to buy food. Barefoot children are starving in the snow, pregnant mothers are giving birth to babies who will not survive. This is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

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Afghan women and children, fleeing from conflict, are living in temporary shelters. Credit: Christian Aid
Afghanistani woman with her child

One woman told us how her family is struggling to survive from day to day.

'We had a normal life before, but now, with the recent changes, we live in stress, fearing death from hunger or the harsh conditions we face. The prices for groceries and other essentials have increased dramatically. We could not afford even one meal a day. I have had to borrow money from neighbours to get by. I sold items from my house such as beds, cupboards and carpets. We were completely hopeless and worried for the winter months.'

This crisis has not arrived unexpectedly.

The INGO community, Scottish Government, UN and the DEC have all been working behind the scenes for many months to ensure that aid gets through to those who most need it. The change in government, international sanctions and a second catastrophic drought in four years has made it difficult to help as much as we would all like to.

Our staff and partner organisations feel this same despair. One of our colleagues told us that the crisis is heart breaking. She wrote:

'The days are getting colder and I’m witnessing suffering like never before; children begging on the streets, women standing on street corners, forced to sell their clothes in order to buy thick, winter blankets. We are faced with just two hours of electricity per day, so people are struggling to heat their homes.'

But in the ruins, there is hope.

The new Afghan government has left the way open for the humanitarian community to provide support. And while the way in which that support is delivered is complex, people are being fed and protected from the worst of the winter weather.

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The Scottish public has donated £3 million to the DEC Afghanistan Crisis Appeal Credit: DEC Scotland
Afghani boy similing in a DEC graphic stating the funds raised for the appeal

Thank you

Supporters and congregations in Scotland have dug deep and given generously.

Thanks to your donations to Christian Aid and to the DEC, we have already provided food and hygiene packages to over 17,000 people. Our partner organisations are moving heaven and earth to make sure that your donations go to all who need support. Moving forward, we aim to target around 65,000 of the most vulnerable, including displaced people, host communities, and those returning to their homes.

We are doing our best to work under the restrictions and support people with their immediate needs. Through our local partners, we are working in a range of provinces, providing winter kits with blankets, food, hygiene kits and essential nutritional packages for children, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, alongside Covid awareness raising.

Scottish Government support

The Scottish Government has shown wonderful generosity to Islamic Relief, Tearfund, Christian Aid and the DEC. Their willingness to learn about and respond to the complex needs has been heartening. Scottish Government funding will ensure that more pregnant women receive nutritious food and families are prepared for winter.

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Widowed women in Afghanistan, received emergency support from a Christian Aid Partner, through our DEC-Covid appeal Credit: Christian Aid
Covered Afghanistan women with food supplies

We are really thankful for the support. May God bless everyone who supports and helps the poor in these critical times. We now have something to eat and our family will survive the next few months at least.

- Afghan woman who received funding.

Our family will survive the next few months. Can you imagine if your goal was just to stay alive until Easter? And so, despite the expertise and diligence of the international community, the need is immense.

We know that you are generous beyond words. For our part, together with our Scottish and international partners, we will continue to find those who are in greatest need and pass on your kindness.

But the situation is so catastrophic that we come to you again for help. If you are able, please consider donating to the Afghanistan Appeal.

Save lives

People are starving in Afghanistan, with more than 8 million on the brink of famine.

Scottish Government Humanitarian Emergency Fund

Our work in Afghanistan is supported by the Scottish Government Humanitarian Emergency Fund.

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