Half a million returning Afghans face winter crisis: NGOs urge immediate international aid

International non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have issued a dire warning about the plight of nearly half a million Afghans who have recently returned to their homeland.

The Norwegian Refugee Council, alongside eight other aid agencies, is calling for increased international support to assist these individuals, predominantly women and children, as they face the harsh winter in Afghanistan.

Following Pakistan’s announcement three months ago regarding the deportation of undocumented foreigners, approximately 500,000 Afghans have made their way back across the border. These returnees, now in Afghanistan, are confronted with a grim reality: a lack of basic necessities such as food, shelter, and employment opportunities.

CARE International, Danish Refugee Council, INTERSOS, International Rescue Committee, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Mercy Corps, Save the Children International, and World Vision International join the Norwegian Refugee Council in highlighting the urgent need for humanitarian aid.

Mariam*, a mother of five, is among those struggling to survive. After using all their resources, including border assistance, to return to Afghanistan and cover transportation costs, her family is now facing homelessness and food insecurity in Jalalabad. “We have nothing left,” Mariam shares, expressing her desperation for work opportunities and stable housing.

Afghanistan’s protracted conflicts, recent earthquakes, and economic crises have left the country ill-equipped to support these returnees. The NGOs emphasize that the well-being and survival of these families, especially those led by women, are at severe risk due to the lack of job opportunities and integration support.

The aid agencies are urging both international donors and Afghan host countries to increase support and continue offering refuge to Afghans abroad. They emphasize the need for long-term solutions, including secure housing and employment, to aid displaced Afghans in rebuilding their lives.

The stark reality in Afghanistan, still recovering from decades of turmoil and facing a humanitarian crisis with 29 million people in need, underscores the critical need for immediate and sustained international assistance.