Irish Aid
Colm Brophy, Minister for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora, announced an additional €2 million in Irish Aid support less than two months after the initial €1 million, crediting the severity of the “rapidly deteriorating humanitarian [need] in Afghanistan” as the reason for the additional support. In children under the age of 5 years old, there is a high level of food insecurity and the risk of malnutrition. Minister Brophy stated in the press release that “One in three Afghans is facing crisis levels of food insecurity and more than half of all children under five are at risk of acute malnutrition.”

Ireland Aid Can Make International Changes

The aid that Ireland is providing has the potential to save lives and serve as a model for other countries to follow. Showing the actual impact of aid on Afghan refugees can also spark a positive reflection on the Afghan community, rather than the negative connection from recent conflicts.

Only a month prior, Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney announced €1 million in Irish aid for humanitarian needs in Afghanistan. This initial assistance was in addition to the €2 million that the HALO Trust, Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund (AFH) and Concern Worldwide received at the start of 2021.

The funds will go to UNICEF and the Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund (AFH). The AFH assists with the health, education and nutrition of the Afghan people.

Changing Visa Policies

On top of the Irish Aid support, Ireland has extended its refugee visas policy for up to another 150 Afghan people under the Irish Refugee Protection Program (IRPP). Ireland strongly condemns the violent action against the people of Afghanistan, especially the attacks against women and children.

It has called for safe and reliable access to humanitarian needs in Afghanistan for Aghani citizens and those who work with U.N. agencies and humanitarian partners, without exemptions. This means that even those across conflict lines must get the humanitarian access they need for safety.

Refugee Visas to Make a Difference

Ireland, which many know for its strong advocacy for women and girls, is attempting to play a role in relocating some Afghan women and girls to Ireland. There will be a priority for those who work in human rights issues and those who work with NGOs, including European and international organizations. Family reunification is also at the top of Ireland’s list in regard to the 150 refugee visas.

This is not the only way for Afghans to obtain refugee visas. There are a few protocols in place that help Afghans obtain refugee visas as long as they meet or find a way to meet the criteria. According to the 2015 International Protection Act, if an Afghani person already knows someone in Ireland who can handle their international protection application or if they have someone who will meet them at the border, they are exempt from the application fee. Deportation has also experienced less strict enforcement since COVID-19. Given the current state of Afghanistan, there is no clear answer to whether someone would experience deportation.

At the end of the day, Ireland is doing everything it can to assist with the humanitarian need in Afghanistan. In this time of crisis, it uses funds, policies and aid to do what it can. By expanding its visa list to accept more refugees, Ireland demonstrates that it will do everything possible to assist another country’s crisis.

– Veronica G. Rosas
Photo: Unsplash

The Success of Humanitarian Aid to AfghanistanThe Global Humanitarian Assistance Report for 2017 stated that Afghanistan has 8.9 million people in need of international humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian aid to Afghanistan is important because it is a country with multiple crises, including internal and international conflict and violence, refugees who still remain in neighboring countries and natural disasters such as floods, droughts, avalanches and sandstorms.

Afghanistan ranked in the top 10 countries in need of humanitarian aid from 1999 until 2015, when it dropped to 13th. In 2016, there were roughly 1.6 million people displaced within Afghanistan. Crises are prevalent in the country and the effects are apparent among the citizens. Children face some of the toughest obstacles in survival, and the government struggles to provide the basic needs of clean water, electricity, safe roads and education.

With the increased need for humanitarian aid, the U.N. Secretary-General’s report at the World Humanitarian Summit called for an adjustment of financing to the countries most in need. Financing tools are being re-evaluated to fit the crises and breaking away from the old short-term grant-based funding. This change acknowledges that natural disasters require different financing than conflicts, such as climate financing, risk reduction and risk transfer. Conflict financing is still limited, but the World Bank, the U.N. Development Programme and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development are looking to broaden the financing scope to enable better aid to countries in need.

Several foundations are also working to downsize this crisis impact within Afghanistan. Save the Children is an organization giving children access to literacy programs, building strong curriculums and training teachers for both preschool age and secondary school children. Further advances have been made in efforts to employ parents of children to work on projects to better develop the community with local reservoirs, agriculture canals and other drought-related projects.

The European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid department was founded in 1994 in order to provide aid for the strictly humanitarian principles of independence, impartiality and neutrality. This aid continues for conflict and disaster-ridden communities, providing emergency medical, food, clean water, shelter, protection, sanitation and hygiene. This organization is providing for the basic needs and working to restore access to education to children in the process.

In 2017, the Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid department planned to allocate €25.5 million, but because of the growing displacements of citizens, it grew to €30.5 million. A main priority is support for refugees to return from Pakistan and Iran.

The humanitarian aid to Afghanistan continues with the International Rescue Committee, which started in 1988 in response to the Soviet Union’s invasion. This organization continued providing aid throughout the rule of the Taliban and now works with thousands of villages, employing many Afghans in the IRC staff. This organization teaches communities to take action in their own projects for development, provides learning spaces in rural locations, provides tents, water, sanitation and basic needs to those displaced and works to find employment for people. These efforts are crucial to enable progress in Afghanistan.

Much aid is needed within Afghanistan due to crises stemming from multiple sources, but international humanitarian aid to Afghanistan is being addressed. Countries, smaller foundations and organizations along with individuals are seeking to make an impact in the nation.

– Bronti DeRoche

Photo: Flickr