© UNHCR/Oxygen Empire Media Production

Afghanistan Emergency

Mass arrivals in Afghanistan are adding to the ongoing humanitarian crisis as winter temperatures start to drop.

The Government of Pakistan recently announced the repatriation of undocumented foreign nationals, impacting over one million Afghan families who fled to Pakistan in search of safety and protection. People arriving at the borders are exhausted and in need of urgent support.

UNHCR is on the ground delivering life-saving aid and protection to returnees. Our teams are also providing legal support and cash assistance.

But with a harsh winter looming and communities already weakened by recent earthquakes, much more help is needed.

Following Pakistan's announcement, many refugee families have returned to Afghanistan in fear and haste, leaving behind their homes and livelihoods. Obaidullah, a refugee returnee, and his family are currently living with relatives until they can find housing and work.

"I have a big family and I'm worried about how I'm going to support them," says Obaidullah. "I'm worried about finding a stable job and a proper place to live."

The abrupt return of Afghan families comes on top of years of conflict, economic hardship and disaster. With winter fast approaching, your support is vital. 

Give today to provide life-saving aid to vulnerable families in Afghanistan.  

Afghanistan Emergency

Your gift can provide emergency aid such as tents, blankets and hygiene kits for Afghan returnees.

© UNHCR/Oxygen Empire Media Production

Before the mass arrivals, there were already 3.3 million people displaced inside Afghanistan and more than five million refugees in neighbouring countries.

Many Afghans had fled their homes with very few belongings and were struggling to survive in appalling conditions, living in flimsy shelters and with little access to food and water.

Farishta*, a widow and mother of two, fled the northern province of Takhar when the Taliban overran her town.

After moving into a tiny room in Kabul, Farishta struggled to provide for her children while also sending money to family members who fled to Iran.

Farishta couldn’t afford food or rent and was sinking further into debt when she heard she had received UNHCR’s cash assistance. It helped her buy food, blankets and clothes to get through the harsh winter.

Abdul Sattar*, 30, fled with his family after fighting broke out in the Panjshir Valley and their home was destroyed.

The family of eight received cash assistance to help cover their rent, as well as food and other emergency relief items.  

“There is no one left in the area, everyone fled,” Abdul says. “My parents are traumatised and still haven’t come out of the shock.”

“A rocket hit the house and turned everything to dust. When we came here, we had nothing, so the assistance from UNHCR was a big help.”

Abdul Sattar*, 30, internally displaced in Afghanistan

Afghanistan_Abdul Sattar-30-holds-his-daughter-Munawara-4-outside-their-accommodation-in-Kabul
© UNHCR/Andrew McConnell
Stoves and Fuel

Your gift can provide stoves and fuel so families can cook meals and stay warm during the harsh winter.

Emergency Shelter

Your gift can provide emergency shelter to protect a family displaced by conflict or natural disaster.

Cash Assistance

Your gift can provide cash assistance to help families buy food and medicine.

“In summer, we only have to worry about food. But in winter we have to worry about finding fuel to burn, fixing the heating system, and falling down on the ice when collecting water.”

Gul Khan*, grandfather of seven-year-old Farhanaz* and five-year-old Najeebullah* 

© UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

About Afghanistan Crisis

What is happening in Afghanistan?

Over 300,000 people have returned to Afghanistan after Pakistan announced the repatriation of undocumented foreigners, worsening the country's already severe humanitarian crisis.

In October, three earthquakes struck Herat Province. Thousands of people were killed or injured. Many more lost their homes and livelihoods.

This comes on top of years of conflict, drought and economic hardship. With winter temperatures dipping, families don't know how they will survive.

Where have displaced Afghans fled to?

Most displacement in 2021 and 2022 has been internal – Afghan civilians are being forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in other parts of the country.  

Outside Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan have generously hosted Afghan refugees for many years and granted them access to health and education.

UNHCR appreciates the generous hospitality neighbouring countries have shown asylum-seekers for over four decades and is calling on all countries to suspend the forced return of Afghan nationals. Now, thousands of Afghans who were living in Pakistan are returning in fear and haste, after Pakistan announced the repatriation of undocumented foreigners.

How can I help Afghan refugees?

You can help Afghan refugees fleeing the country and internally displaced people by making a donation or fundraising for us.

How is aid getting into the country?

By road and by air. Throughout the crisis, UNHCR has continued to get humanitarian supplies into the country through the Pakistan border. When needs increased after August 2021, UNHCR opened a new road route in the north from Uzbekistan.

Is aid reaching the people who need it?

Yes. UNHCR is distributing relief items like cooking sets, blankets and hygiene supplies to Afghan families. Our teams are also providing shelter support and cash assistance so the most vulnerable families can purchase their basic needs. These supplies have helped people to survive but competing humanitarian needs and huge number of arrivals makes for a grim winter and a difficult time ahead.

What is UNHCR doing to help?

UNHCR is providing displaced families with shelter support, cash assistance and relief items including blankets, solar lamps and heating appliances. Our teams are also providing protection, healthcare and legal support to returning Afghan nationals at the border and beyond.

Where can I access the latest data and reports?

Afghanistan Situation Portal – for the latest updates on the situation overall, including UNHCR situation reports, funding requirements and UNHCR’s support for neighbouring countries taking in refugees from Afghanistan.

*Names changed for protection reasons

Our fundraising commitment

The majority of funds raised by Australia for UNHCR are directed to UNHCR’s emergency operations, providing the ready funds and resources to respond quickly and effectively in situations of crisis and disaster.

Humanitarian programs