Finland increases humanitarian assistance to help Afghan people
Finland will provide EUR 3 million through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR to help Afghan refugees. On the World Humanitarian Day celebrated today, the crises in Afghanistan and Haiti remind us of the global humanitarian distress.
In Afghanistan the need for humanitarian assistance was great already before the most recent stage of the conflict. The UN has estimated that, while in the spring about a third of the country’s population needed humanitarian assistance, now about a half of the population is in need of help. The countries neighbouring Afghanistan to which people are fleeing are also under pressure.
“Based on estimates by the UN, the numbers of Afghan people who have left their homes are growing. People are fleeing both within Afghanistan and to the neighbouring countries. For example, the number of refugees coming to Iran per day is now about 5,000, which is as much as three times what it was before. It is important that Finland will also bear its responsibility for helping them,” says Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari.
The need for humanitarian assistance around the world is greater than ever before. Globally, as many as 240 million people in 56 countries are in need of urgent assistance. The main causes for this are prolonged conflicts, natural disasters and extreme weather events that have been aggravated by climate change. The COVID-19 pandemic has also increased the need for assistance. The UN’s global appeal for humanitarian assistance for this year totals about EUR 30 billion.
At the moment the most serious humanitarian crises are ongoing in Syria, Yemen and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The conflict in Syria has continued for more than 10 years and it has driven over 13 million people away from their homes, 6.6 million of them as refugees to other countries. The conflict and drought in Yemen have caused a serious food crisis where about 20 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.
“The humanitarian distress will be further aggravated by climate change. Afghanistan is one of the countries that are the most susceptible to climate change. Haiti had not recovered from the previous crisis when this new one hit. Assistance measures have been further complicated by the heavy storm and floods,” the Minister says.
According to the UN, climate warming caused by human influence has almost doubled the number of natural disasters in the past 20 years. In 2019, 34 million people suffered from food shortages as a result of extreme weather events and 25 million people had to leave their homes. As many as 90% of the world's refugees already come from countries that are the most susceptible to climate change.
The purpose of the World Humanitarian Day, celebrated since 2009, is to draw attention to the world's humanitarian needs and to remember people who have lost their lives in the relief work.
This year, the day’s theme is climate change.
The humanitarian aid budget of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs for this year is EUR 87 million. EUR 3 million of this has already been granted to help the Afghan people.
Lauratuulia Lehtinen, Director of the Unit for Humanitarian Assistance and Policy, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 46 921 2030