The situation in Afghanistan remains precarious and uncertain close to one year after the change of leadership in August 2021, as multiple political, socio-economic, climate-related and humanitarian shocks reverberate across the country.
In the short term, a sudden major increase of cross-border population movement affecting the neighbouring countries remains unlikely. However, analysis indicates that outflow of Afghans to neighbouring countries could increase if drivers of people movement persist. The drivers include a combination of increasing internal mobility due to lack of access to basic services, food insecurity, economic hardship and limitations relating to safer pathways for people to move to other countries. There have been 174,460 reported newly arriving Afghans who approached UNHCR and partners in the neighbouring countries since 1 January 2021 (as of May 2022). The overall number of Afghans with international refugee protection needs is likely to be much higher and especially for Iran authorities reported around 500,000 Afghans who have crossed into Iran. The international community has a role to play in ensuring a stable Afghanistan and in working together to mitigate the serious consequences for global security and regional stability that the current emergency could trigger. If the international humanitarian response for, and within, Afghanistan is unable to maintain adequate aid delivery, a growing number of Afghans may seek refuge in neighbouring countries. Based on past trends, Iran and Pakistan would be the likely preferred initial destinations. Given this likelihood, preparedness and response activities in neighbouring countries continue to be prioritised through this Regional Emergency Appeal.
Access to Iran’s territory remains limited to Afghan passport holders with valid visas, although the Iranian authorities report that some 500,000 Afghans have crossed into Iran since 2021. An increase in security measures at unofficial border crossing points, as well as the resumption of visa issuance at the Iranian embassy in Kabul, has led to a decrease in the proportion of arrivals who reported arriving irregularly and a decrease in the proportion who reported using smugglers to enter. Most population movements from Afghanistan are mainly from Hazara and Tajik communities, coming from the eight provinces/locations of Herat, Balkh, Kunduz, Parwan, Baghlan, Nimruz, Ghazni and Faryab.
According to UNHCR, there are currently an estimated 3 million Afghans in Pakistan, including both refugees and unregistered and/or undocumented people, and 117,547 new arrivals have crossed into Pakistan since the beginning of 2021. 1 Currently, entry is limited to Torkham border crossing, to those with valid passports and visas. The overall refugee situation continues to place a heavy burden on Pakistan’s infrastructure and public service delivery systems. Access to healthcare is limited, especially for Afghan nationals living in Pakistan, including refugees, Afghan citizen card holders, and new arrivals. Weak health infrastructure and weak surveillance systems, poor hygiene practices and community scepticism toward public health campaigns have contributed to an increase in disease outbreaks.
The official number for new arrivals in Tajikistan in 2021 was 3,014 persons. This per the Tajik Ministry of Internal Affairs. Government policy guided the planning for potentially receiving a controlled number of additional Afghan refugees in the country, and during the course of 2021, the total number of refugees and asylum seekers notably increased, reaching over 10,000 according to UNHCR. Even though borders with Afghanistan are open the crossing is restricted for passport and visa holders only. In Tajikistan, Afghan refugees and asylum seekers are hosted in seven pre-defined locations, Dushanbe city, Khalton province, Hisor district, Rudaki district, Sharihnav district, Sughd province and Vahdat district, with residing Afghan populations.
EMERGENCY APPEAL 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.
After the end of the Emergency Appeal, response and preparedness activities will continue under the 2023 IFRC country plans for Iran, Pakistan and Tajikistan. IFRC 2023 country plans will show a holistic view of ongoing emergency responses and longer-term programming tailored to the needs in each of the countries, as well as a Federation-wide 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.
This Revised Appeal aims to support preparedness and priority humanitarian response for population movement from Afghanistan to the region neighbouring Afghanistan, focusing on Iran, Pakistan and Tajikistan, and potentially other countries in Central Asia, with a target population of 160,000 people.
In Iran the overall operational objective under this Emergency Appeal is to prepare for/respond to 37,500 Afghan nationals (7,500 households) as well as 30,000 people from the host communities with emergency shelter, catering to basic needs including food and household items, health and WASH services (as contribution to the IRCS plan). The IRCS is scaling up Livelihoods, Health, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), Migration, Community Engagement and Accountability (CEA), National Society Development (NSD) and Preparedness by adapting the shelter component.
The affected communities are spread across the three provinces of southern Khorasan, Sistan-uBaluchestan and Khorasan Razavi, as well as the provinces of Yazd, Isfahan, Kerman, Fars, Semnan, northern Khorasan and Golestan. General vulnerability has increased as a result of the presence of more than 500,000 Afghans in various urban areas.
Pakistan has hosted Afghan migrants and refugees for over 40 years and there are currently approximately 3 million in the country, including both registered refugees and unregistered and/or undocumented Afghans. Some displaced Afghans, especially those who are un-registered or 'underdocumented', face different kinds of vulnerabilities than do registered individuals. Under this revised Appeal, PRCS is targeting 70,500 people, Afghan nationals in Pakistan and their host communities, in the five target districts of Killa Abdullah, Quetta, Khyber, North Waziristan and Chitral, with improved access to basic health services, WASH, livelihoods and protection services through direct service delivery, awareness building and in-kind support.
Based on the changes in the country, in Tajikistan RCST has decided to reduce the overall target and aims to reach 20,000 most vulnerable Afghan refugees and asylum seekers as well as members of host communities including those communities in the border areas of South Tajikistan who are vulnerable to conflict or exposed to natural disasters or population influx, with cash assistance, health services including Community-based Surveillance (CBS), Protection, Gender and Inclusion (PGI), CEA and other response and preparedness activities.
For specific updates on the progress of the operation and people reached per country and activity, please see the last Operations Update which was launched in June 2022.