The latest: Afghanistan ranks among the top three nations of the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) annual “Emergency Watch List” at greatest risk of new humanitarian emergencies in 2023. The list has 20 countries and Somalia, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan are at the top of the watchlist.
- Of the 40.8 million total population of Afghanistan, at least 28.3 million people are in need of humanitarian aid. At least 18.9 million people face crisis or worse levels of food insecurity.
- Economic collapse is the main accelerator of the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Ninety-seven percent of Afghanistan’s population is at risk of poverty, as per the report. Over half the population is reliant on humanitarian aid—a response that donors cannot sustain.
- Growing poverty is likely to worsen the already looming food crisis. The climate crisis contributes to and compounds the Afghan crisis. Afghanistan is facing its third year of drought, and has also seen violent flooding across the country driven by above average rainfall, melting Himalayan glaciers and poor management of water infrastructure.
- As per the report, Afghan women and girls will continue to suffer disproportionately. Women-headed households are already at higher risk of gender-based violence, child marriage and exploitation and abuse as resources become scarce.
- Health, education and livelihood services are unlikely to keep up with high levels of need. In 2022, the Taliban cut spending on social services by 81%, which—combined with the halt in most international development funding—has severely weakened the delivery of essential public services.
Why it matters? According to IRC’s report, 20 countries that will face the worst humanitarian crisis in the coming year, make up about 13% of the world’s population. On an average, countries on the emergency watchlist have experienced armed conflict for nearly the entire past decade, the report said.
- According to the International Rescue Committee’s estimate, in 2023, about 340 million people will need better humanitarian aid planning and funding.
Zoom out: Over a year since the Taliban took power, Afghans are feeling the devastating impacts of the economic collapse. Rapid increases in aid averted famine last winter and enabled nearly 10 million Afghans to access health and nutrition services. Sanctions relief has been instrumental in facilitating all these efforts. With almost the entire population now living in poverty and preparing for another long winter, an escalation in humanitarian need is a risk in 2023.