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Afghanistan: How the Red Cross and Red Crescent are Helping

American Red Cross
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August 18, 2021

Humanitarian needs in Afghanistan are high following recent events.

Conflict, extreme drought, and the COVID-19 pandemic have converged, with thousands newly displaced by the conflict and millions more suffering food shortages and hunger.

“The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is relieved to see Kabul avoid what could have been devastating urban warfare, but we remain mindful of the thousands of civilians wounded and displaced in recent fighting in other urban centers. The ICRC is determined to stand by the Afghan people and help men, women and children cope with the unfolding situation,” said Robert Mardini, Director-General, International Committee of the Red Cross.

How is the global Red Cross and Red Crescent network helping? Here are the details:

In Afghanistan: Humanitarian Aid
The Afghan Red Crescent, the IFRC and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have been active in Afghanistan for decades, providing aid such as medical care, clean water and relief during armed conflicts.

Currently, one of the worst droughts in decades is crippling food production across the country and nearly one third of Afghanistan’s population is experiencing high levels of acute food shortages. With the support of the IFRC, the Afghan Red Crescent is providing families who have lost their livelihoods due to the drought with cash grants to buy food supplies and to restore crops.

The ICRC, whose medical teams run physical rehabilitation centers in Afghanistan, treated more than 40,000 people wounded by weapons at ICRC-supported facilities in June, July and August. The ICRC expects to receive patients for months and years to come as they recover from wounds from explosive devices that litter the country, many of them newly laid in recent weeks. Wards are filled with children and young men and women who have lost limbs.

According to Mardini, “Relief work will continue and the ICRC is determined to stand by the Afghan people and help men, women and children cope with the unfolding situation. We will continue to work hand-in-hand with the Afghan Red Crescent Society to help those whose lives have been scarred by war."

In the U.S.: Repatriation Efforts
The American Red Cross has been asked to support the repatriation efforts for hundreds of people following the recent unrest in Afghanistan. This type of aid helps people facing so much uncertainty to find some sense of normalcy.

As people arrive in Virginia, Red Cross workers are providing comfort and support including meals, hygiene kits, blankets and emotional support. The Red Cross and its government partners are also coordinating to provide additional services depending on the immediate needs of these families. This work may expand to other areas of the country in the coming days. 

If you are unable to locate a loved one or friend who has been impacted by the current events in Afghanistan, the Red Cross can help you locate them. To learn more, visit the Restoring Family Links website. Additional mental health support is available and we encourage people to reach out to the free 24/7 Disaster Distress Helpline via phone or text (1-800-985-5990).

In U.S. Military Communities: Information for U.S. service members, veterans, their families and caregivers
The American Red Cross has supported military families and veterans from the war in Afghanistan and will continue to do so. The Red Cross is working closely with the Department of Veteran Affairs to assist military and veteran families who are struggling with the aftermath of recent events in Afghanistan.  If you are a caregiver of an Afghanistan veteran, feel free to reach out to the Military and Veteran Caregiver Network (MVCN). The MVCN is a free, confidential online network for caregivers that provides resources, emotional support and reduces isolation. If you are a veteran or military family in need of mental wellness support, please reach out to your local Red Cross or visit our Reconnection Workshops online to join a free, confidential workshop that can help guide you through military-specific transition and stress.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, please call the Veterans Crisis Line  1-800-273-8255, then PRESS 1 or visit

For emergency mental health care, you can also go directly to your local VA medical center 24/7 regardless of your discharge status or enrollment in other VA health care. The VA also has local Vet Centers in your community to help discuss how you feel with other Veterans in these community-based counseling centers. 70% of Vet Center staff are Veterans. Call 1-877-927-8387 or find one near you.

About the American Red Cross:

*The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. *For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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