30 aid workers killed in Afghanistan over 2-year period, UN agency says

File photo.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Sunday that at least 30 humanitarian aid workers lost their lives in Afghanistan within the past two years.

On the occasion of World Humanitarian Day, OCHA’s humanitarian coordinator for Afghanistan, Daniel Endres, expressed gratitude for the dedicated efforts of aid workers who have been instrumental in safeguarding vulnerable lives across the nation.

“We also pay tribute to those humanitarian workers who made the ultimate sacrifice, suffered injuries, endured abductions, arrests, or are currently held captive while performing their duties,” Endres conveyed in a video message released on Saturday. “This includes the tragic loss of 30 aid workers during the preceding two years, many of whom were engaged in polio vaccination campaigns and demining operations.”

Throughout 2022, Endres stated, aid workers extended their assistance to vulnerable communities and families, reaching a commendable count of over 26 million individuals spanning all of the country’s 401 districts, despite formidable challenges.

“In this year, their efforts persist, reaching in excess of 23.6 million individuals, including 12 million women and girls, who have received various forms of aid,” he added.

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator also underscored the pivotal and distinct role of women aid workers, who frequently act as a “sole lifeline” for countless at-risk women and girls, even in the face of constraints imposed by the Taliban.

However, the ongoing dearth of funding is compelling UN life-saving initiatives to terminate at an alarming rate.

“The number of individuals targeted for food assistance has dwindled from an initial 13 million at the start of the year to nine million in March, and further down to 5 million people in May. Additionally, over 260 stationary and mobile healthcare facilities have been compelled to suspend their services, severely restricting access to primary medical care for 2 million people,” the UN agency stated in a release.

The statement cautioned that numerous other activities are being affected, with additional disruptions and program closures becoming inevitable if the issue of underfunding persists.

OCHA reported that this year, a staggering 29.2 million individuals (constituting more than two-thirds of the population) are reliant on humanitarian assistance to ensure their survival—a staggering 480% surge over the past five years.