2021 in Review
Humanitarian situation in 2021
Pakistan faces some of the highest disaster risk levels in the world and is ranked 18 out of 191 countries by the 2020 Inform Risk Index. This risk ranking is driven particularly by the country's exposure to earthquakes and the risk of internal conflict. Pakistan has high exposure to flooding, as well as some exposure to tropical cyclones and drought. Risk in Pakistan is also driven by its social vulnerability. The effects of COVID-19, the protracted crisis, limited access to basic services, the increasing number of Afghan Refugees, and environmental shocks were the main drivers of humanitarian needs. Pakistan hosts one of the world's largest refugee populations globally, with 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees, 840,000 Afghan Citizen Card (ACC) holders, and an additional 500,000 Afghan nationals living in the country irregularly.1 In addition, 1,377 refugee families had voluntarily returned from Khost, Afghanistan, from 10 December 2021 up to 31 December 2021, as reported by the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which provided them food assistance and non-food times assistance with the support of humanitarian partners, and transportation and communication support.
The pandemic overburdened Pakistan's health system, stifling growth and pushing the country's more vulnerable citizens deeper into poverty. The advent of novel SARS-CoV2 variants presented unique hurdles due to a lack of access to therapeutic options and immunization, as well as potential trade and economic consequences. According to National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), as of 30 December 2021, 156,623,021 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 28,933 deaths were registered. Over 70.5 million people had been fully vaccinated, and almost 97 million people had received at least one dose by the end of 2021, which represents 31.1 and 43 per cent of the total population, respectively.
Afghan refugee crisis
Pakistan has been hosting Afghan refugees for the past four decades, making it one of the largest recipients of refugees globally. Following the events in Afghanistan in 2021, the situation remains uncertain and may evolve rapidly in 2022. The upsurge of violence across the country in 2021 and instability has had a serious impact on civilians and, combined with hardships caused by political turmoil, economic instability, and poor food security, may cause further displacement, both internally and across borders. This would add to the 2.2 million registered refugees from previous waves of violence, and a further four million Afghans of varying status, including undocumented people.
With increased flows of new arrivals through official and unofficial border crossing points since the beginning of 2021, UNHCR has pre-screened over 68,000 newly arriving Afghans who may be in need of international protection in neighboring countries including Pakistan.2 The total number crossing into neighboring countries can be difficult to verify.
Security and access constraints
The PHPF developed its allocation strategy in close consultation with members of the Advisory Board, UN agencies, sector leads, government departments, and humanitarian organizations. To strengthen humanitarian coordination and access on the ground, the Fund worked with national and provincial disaster management authorities and a range of stakeholders at the provincial and district level.
The Fund, with the support of the HC, conducted several advocacy initiatives with Government authorities regarding humanitarian access and operational space. Advocacy efforts and consultation with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan ensured all PHPF obtained approval of no-objection certificates (NOCs) for PHPF supported projects in a timely manner, avoiding significant delays.