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Regional Population Movement - Afghanistan | Preparedness and Response - Revised Emergency Appeal No. MDRAFRPM21 - Operational Strategy

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IFRC Secretariat funding requirement: 24.6 million CHF Federation-wide funding requirement: 50.5 million CHF

OPERATIONAL STRATEGY REVISION

This revision of the Emergency Appeal takes into consideration the situation in the three countries, factoring in the current government border policies in the countries as well as needs of people already in country. The continued border closing in Tajikistan has led to a change of operational strategy for the National Society, decreasing the initial target which was designed for an increased population movement from Afghanistan. Both IRCS and PRCS have adapted their operations as well based on the current situation and needs in country, adding activities or geographical areas, but without substantial changes to their initial preparedness and response strategy. Through the revision, additional actions to continue the commenced preparedness measures for potential increased cross border movements were identified while the initial planned response was consolidated.

In addition, through this revision the timeframe of this emergency appeal is being extended until December 31, 2022. There are no changes to the funding ask or the number of people to be assisted. Further details on the revision of the operation are presented in the revised Operational Strategy.

The Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) will continue to respond to the needs of those who cross in "zeroborder" areas by providing basic assistance. Here the Operation will scale up food packages, basic health equipment, water, disaster risk reduction (DRR), preparedness to respond to people on the move and preparedness for effective response through Community Helal Houses. As new arrivals are not going into camps, response and preparedness efforts will focus more on urban, semi-urban and rural host community settings where the Afghan population resides, primarily Kerman, which will be included in the response preparedness action. Kerman is suffering from severe drought the effects of which are being exacerbated by the demand that the new arrivals place on water, and natural resources are becoming scarce.

Key IRCS facilities such as light vehicles, heavy vehicles, warehouses and resources from Helal Houses in host communities are also used for this response. Through the Relief and Rescue Organisation (RARO), IRCS has been providing continuous oversight and support, as well as deploying staff and resources throughout the Operation. As an auxiliary to the Iranian authorities in the provision of humanitarian services, IRCS plays a key role, collaborating at both the national and local levels.

IRCS, IFRC and ICRC also have a long-standing agreement to collaborate on IRCS operations in the coming months through the Revised Contingency Plan. The Iranian Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants Affairs (BAFIA) has established a scheme for voluntary registration of Afghans who arrived in Iran following the crisis, with deadline of registration for temporary residency 7 June 2022. And since voluntary registrations are underway, the need for food and essential household items, health services and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) will likely increase.

With IFRC support, initial reception centres (IRCs) were planned for 7,500 tents with the assumption that new arrivals would be accommodated in temporary shelters in three provinces of Iran. This did not happen, however, due to the changing context. Hence, the replenishment portion of stocks for tents already deployed by IRCS (6,000 per province) was revised from the original IFRC Appeal. IRCS then received support from the Iranian authorities for tent replenishments, and in turn IFRC contributed 400 tent replenishments under the DREF. Subsequently, tents were replaced with food, water and medical supplies as clarified previously, due to the significant change in needs.

Due to the newly arriving displaced populations residing in areas outside planned camps, the humanitarian support is designed to establish balance among displaced communities and host populations. This operation may also experience new dynamics following the outcome of the call from BAFIA for voluntary registration.

It is yet unclear whether displaced people will go to planned transitional sites or stay in the settings where they are currently residing. IRCS, IFRC and ICRC are jointly monitoring the situation and will adapt to operational roles to fill gaps and connect to the IRCS’ mandated role.

Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) will continue its implementation without large adjustments in strategy. A stronger focus will be given to engage and raise awareness on migration related issues with key stakeholders as a way of responding to the humanitarian needs of migrants. Those awareness raising activities will also target engagement between local communities and migrants, will promote social inclusion, will reduce marginalisation and discrimination and will sensitise the public.

The Movement seeks to ensure that migrants receive the protection they are entitled to under international and domestic law. This includes specific protections, including for refugees and asylum seekers. Through this EA, PRCS will be supported to conduct protection mapping along with services mapping to identify the critical gaps in the response and discover any unattended needs of migrants. This mapping will complement the information sharing and referral services in humanitarian service points (HSPs) that PRCS aims to establish in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Baluchistan to address the gaps in services and in information sharing.

Additional focus will be given not only to the current burden on host communities but also on climate risk reduction for the mutual benefit of host and migrant communities through planting drives, awareness raising on climate change and the environment, installation of solar pumps and filtration plants, installation of waste bins and distribution of cloth bags in refugee/migrant areas. (Installation of solar pumps is already partially carried out under WASH). As part of the National Society preparedness efforts, National Society intends to preposition essential household items (e.g tarpaulin sheets, blankets, kitchen sets, family tents etc.) stocks in the centrally managed warehouses located at strategic geographical locations in the country. These stocks will be utilised in the affected provinces under the Emergency Appeal. In case of large influx, PRCS will utilize the existing stock of items available in warehouses, which will enable PRCS to quickly dispatch the required items on ground with the stock to be replenished.

Recognising the memorandum of understanding (MOU) of 13 August 2021 between Red Crescent Society of Tajikistan (RCST) and the border troops of Tajikistan, IFRC and RCST have allocated resources to construct IRCs across specific border locations between Afghanistan and Tajikistan, as immediate response points. RCST requested formal confirmation from the Tajik authorities authorising access to land at the Panji Poyon border crossing by 31 March 2022, confirming the role of RCST. No confirmation was received, so IFRC and RCST met with border troops on 14 April to inform them that the Operational Strategy and Plan of Action would be revised.

In this context it was decided that IFRC and RCST are no longer able to support the construction and management of IRCs on the border with Afghanistan and they will instead focus on humanitarian priorities such as: access to food; basic household items; primary health care; first aid and psychosocial support; support for identification and referral for protection for Afghan refugees in the country (which stand at 7,636 refugees and 2,072 asylum seekers ); support for vulnerable communities along the border; preparedness activities in anticipation of a potential influx of more refugees/asylum seekers; and emergency response.

Considering that the border remains closed and that the role of the RCST has changed, this Operational Strategy is being revised accordingly. The number of people to be assisted has also been adjusted to better reflect the situation in the country. Likely scenarios are the following: "Scenario 0", which expects a small number of refugees and asylum seekers (500 - 1,000) to be registered in Tajikistan during 2021 and 2022, and Tajikistan keeping the border closed; and "Scenario 1", which foresees up to 5,000 refugees and asylum seekers to be registered in the respective period with Tajik authorities opting for a "closed/open" (case-by-case) status at the border.

After the end of the Emergency Appeal, response and preparedness activities will continue under the IFRC 2023 country plans for Iran, Pakistan and Tajikistan. These country plans will take a holistic view of ongoing emergency responses and longer-term programming tailored to the needs in each of the countries, as well as a Federationwide view of the country action. This process aims to streamline activities under one plan while still ensuring that the needs of those affected by the crisis are met.