Afghanistan Situation

As violence increased, Maryam was forced to flee the Sholgara district with her children. Tragically for Maryam and thousands of other displaced Afghans, Afghanistan is now a humanitarian emergency.

Now with dwindling supplies of food and water amid soaring temperatures in Mazar-e-Sharif, every day is a struggle to survive amidst the situation in Afghanistan. 

Photo: © UNHCR

Following more than 40 years of conflict, natural disasters, chronic poverty, food insecurity and, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic, renewed violence is the latest blow for displaced Afghans like Maryam and her children. Please help us to protect people forced to flee.


Emergency shelter kits

family tents and tarpaulin 


Hygiene kits

including PPE to prevent the spread of COVID-19.



Cash assistance

to help families access food and medicine

What is the situation in Afghanistan?

The people of Afghanistan have lived with conflict for more than four decades. Entire generations have never known peace and millions remain displaced.  

Renewed violence and instability have created an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Hundreds of thousands of people have been newly displaced across the country since the start of this year alone. Many had to flee with only the clothes on their back and are struggling to survive in appalling conditions, sheltering in tents made only of cloth.   

UNHCR is on the ground and doing everything possible to protect civilians, but urgently needs public support  to help it reach families in desperate need

Tell me more about the Afghanistan Situation

Afghanistan is experiencing a major humanitarian and displacement crisis. Years of violence have already left 3 million Afghans displaced inside their own country, and forced 2.6 million more to become refugees in other countries, mainly Pakistan and Iran. 

Escalating violence and the withdrawal of international troops have led to a major humanitarian and displacement crisis. More than 550,000 people have been forced to flee their homes since the start of 2021. They remain displaced inside their own country. Tragically, more women and children have been killed and wounded in the first half of 2021 than in any full year since records began in 2009.

With the situation deteriorating rapidly, families speak of having to flee at a moment’s notice, only with the clothes on their backs. This crisis is particularly hard on the most vulnerable in society, children and young people, who make up some 65 per cent of the Afghan population.

Where are Afghans fleeing to?

Most displacement in 2021 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, for several years, hosted nearly 90 per cent of displaced Afghans – more than two million registered Afghan refugees in total. Both countries have generously hosted Afghan refugees and granted them access to health and education systems.

UNHCR welcomes these governments’ continued commitments to hosting asylum-seekers amidst the added health and socio-economic challenges of COVID-19.  

How is UNHCR responding?

Amidst deteriorating conditions, UNHCR teams will remain on the ground in Afghanistan wherever it is safe to do so and continue to help fleeing Afghans with emergency shelter, food, health, water and sanitation support and cash assistance, despite challenges accessing people in need.

This includes the distribution of family tents, hygiene kits, core relief items like blankets, sleeping mats and kitchen sets.  

UNHCR is also rapidly deploying more relief shipments from global stockpiles before escalating violence disrupts the supply chain. As the situation worsens with no end in sight, we urgently need public support to continue getting relief to those in need. 

At a global level, UNHCR is advocating for the international community to support both Afghanistan and also neighbouring countries, Pakistan and Iran, which are already hosting over 2 million Afghan refugees. UNHCR teams are on the ground in both countries providing assistance. 

What about COVID-19?

Preventing the spread of the virus remains a priority. Since the beginning of the pandemic, UNHCR has established hand-washing stations and distributed hygiene kits and masks, as well as provided displaced Afghan families with emergency cash support to help mitigate the socio-economic impact of the pandemic. 

Amongst other items, UNHCR is also providing buckets and jerry cans in its relief kits for newly displaced families. These are especially important in areas where access to clean water is now difficult, helping families to keep clean and wash their hands. 

What can my donation provide?

UNHCR’s relief work relies on voluntary contributions so public support is urgently needed. There are many ways your donation can support someone displaced today.  

£35 will provide five sanitary kits including laundry soap, toilet soap and sanitary napkins.

£52 can buy a core relief kit, providing a family with blankets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets and a kitchen set.

For £310 you can provide an emergency shelter kit, including a family tent and plastic tarpaulins.

Where can I access the latest data and reports?

Afghanistan Situation Portalfor 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.

Afghanistan Operationsfor the latest on UNHCR’s relief work to protect displaced people inside Afghanistan.

The Government of Afghanistan officially declared a drought this year, with water and food becoming even scarcer.  

Despite Maryam and her family’s current circumstances, there is hope.  

UNHCR and partners are providing shelter, water, food and other basic items, but limited resources do not meet the growing needs. Without help, Afghans risk losing hope.

Photo: © UNHCR/Edris Lutfi

Despite Maryam and her family’s current circumstances, there is hope. 

UNHCR and partners are providing shelter, water, food and other basic items, but limited resources do not meet the growing needs. Without help, Afghans risk losing hope.

Photo: © UNHCR/Edris Lutfi

Learn more about what’s happening in Afghanistan

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Caroline Van Buren

“I hope the focus on Afghanistan will continue. UNHCR is here for the long run.”

UNHCR’s Representative in Afghanistan, Caroline Van Buren, describes the current situation in the country and how our staff and partners are helping displaced people.

Yumiko Takashima

A message from our CEO

An update from UK for UNHCR CEO Emma Cherniavsky on the humanitarian crisis rapidly unfolding in Afghanistan.

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