Afghanistan: Humanitarian needs worsening due to insecurity, drought and COVID-19

Children await transportation following the escalation of conflict in Afghanistan.

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CARE is on the ground in Afghanistan, responding to one of the world’s most complex and longstanding humanitarian crises. The country faces multiple, interrelated challenges:


Following the withdrawal of U.S. and international military forces, the Taliban have taken control of most of the country and formed a government, with Ministries headed by all males. News outlets are reporting Taliban claims that they now have control of Panjshir Valley, the only region not under total Taliban control, where fighting between the Taliban and opposition forces had been taking place.  

  • As of mid-July, the country had a total of 3.5 million internally displaced people (IDPs). 
  • More than 393,000 additional people (45,000 families) have been displaced over the last month, most from the country’s northeast and eastern regions
  • Nearly half these families have sought shelter in the capital city of Kabul and are currently living in the city’s parks, streets and other open areas. 
  • Nearly all lack shelter, food, water and healthcare, and more people are arriving every day.
  • Needs will worsen as winter approaches, with displaced families having to cope with freezing temperatures and snowfall. Communities hosting IDPs also face challenges as they struggle to accommodate the influx of new arrivals, as well as deal with the impact of worsening drought and COVID-19.


Afghanistan has been pushed deeper into an already dire food security crisis, with At least 11 million people – more than a quarter of the population – experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity due to ongoing drought, as well as conflict, COVID-19, high food prices and rampant unemployment. Urgent action is required to save lives, reduce food shortages and protect livelihoods.

Women and girls are particularly hard hit:

  • Recent CARE research shows women are disproportionately affected by food insecurity.
  • Men were three times more likely to report having a balanced diet than women as cultural norms often prioritise feeding male family members first.
  • Gender-based violence and child, early and forced marriages have increased since the drought began.


Over 150,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Afghanistan with more than 7,000 deaths, but testing is extremely limited, so those numbers are feared to be much higher. The health system in Afghanistan was critically weak even before the pandemic hit, with only around 300 ventilators in the entire country. The health implications are huge and the responsibility for caring for family members falls primarily on women, even if they are sick themselves.

The combined effects of these challenges are gravely affecting people throughout the country, particularly women and girls. According to Marianne O’Grady, CARE Afghanistan’s deputy country director:

The triple crisis of the economic hardship created by the pandemic, the drought and the current insecurity leaves women in an incredibly difficult situation. Hard-won gains by women and girls are being rolled back.

CARE’s Response:

CARE staff are working around the clock to meet the needs of vulnerable and displaced Afghan families, with a focus on women and girls. Our initial response in Afghanistan includes cash-based assistance to address the needs of IDPs for food, shelter and protection.

In the short term, CARE will provide cash in the amount of $179 to each IDP household to cover their needs for two months. This also will support the local economy and the livelihoods of host communities, which have been severely impacted as well by the worsening crisis. To prevent further risks of COVID-19 transmission, CARE also will provide hygiene kits.

  • CARE plans to increase access to the following types of support for 500,000 vulnerable Afghans:
  • Health services through community- and health facility-based services
  • Nutritional services and treatment of malnutrition
  • Food and livelihood opportunities through both short- and medium-term support, with a focus on cash-based assistance
  • Shelter materials and other non-food relief items
  • Education services through CARE’s proven education in emergency approach
  • Cross-border support as possible and needed for refugees seeking shelter in neighboring countries.


A donation to CARE’s Emergency Response Fund will support CARE’s round-the-clock, rapid response to emergencies and crises in more than 100 countries worldwide. The fund enables us to spring into action as soon as a crisis hits, and it’s the reason we are already on the ground bringing assistance and cash to the most vulnerable families in Afghanistan, so they can get food, water and shelter.

Your urgent support saves lives by multiplying our impact on the ground in places like Afghanistan, Haiti, and Lebanon right now. Help CARE to provide emergency assistance and cash to the most vulnerable families so they can get food, water, and shelter. Since 1961, we’ve provided urgent humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan and will continue to protect and save lives with your help. Please, give now to reach the most vulnerable displaced families with lifesaving aid.