Memorandum submitted by The Rt Hon Clare Short
MP, Secretary of State for International Development
This memorandum sets out DFID's approach to
tackling the current crisis in Afghanistan. It contains the latest
information and assessment on the rapidly evolving humanitarian
situation and DFID's response, along with background information
on DFID's programme prior to the current crisis.
Over two decades of conflict and three years
of drought has inflicted considerable suffering on most of Afghanistan's
estimated population of 20 million people (map at Annex A). Basic
human development indicators are appalling, with some of the world's
highest child and maternal mortality rates, lowest literacy rates,
and a life expectancy estimated at just 44 years. Disability is
common: a legacy of the mines and other ordnance of war. Health
and education services had already largely disappeared as had
the essential infrastructure of water supplies, roads and communications.
In the year prior to last September, over one million people had
been newly displaced from their homes, mostly due to drought,
and approximately 370,000 were believed to have crossed into Pakistan
DFID STRATEGY AND
TO 11 SEPTEMBER
2. DFID's response was located within the
UN-led Strategic Framework for Afghanistan. This provided a principled,
co-ordinated approach to providing assistance, including a set
of ground rules agreed amongst the international community so
that assistance was delivered in a way that reached the most vulnerable
with minimal diversion, and addressed particularly the needs of
women and families. However, the humanitarian agencies never found
it easy to work in Afghanistan, in view of the insecurity, harassment,
and other conditions and obstacles regularly placed in their path
by the warring groups.
3. Prior to 11 September, DFID efforts were
directed at assistance to refugees in neighbouring countries and
at helping to meet immediate life-saving needs (food, water, healthcare,
shelter) within Afghanistan. We worked through the UN, ICRC and
local and international NGOs. We were also planning to respond
to the Taliban ban on poppy cultivation with emergency help to
the approximately 500,000 peopleformer poppy growers and
labourers, and their familieswho faced extra hardship.
We intended to continue to support mine clearance through our
global mines action fund. In addition a new initiative to expand
the provision of primary education for girls and boys was at an
advanced stage of design.
4. Between 1997 and September 2001, DFID
had provided £32 million for emergency food, shelter, healthcare
and water supplies, as well as support for agriculture, mines
clearance, education, and monitoring and advocacy in relation
to human rights.
5. As at 11 September our programme consisted
of sixteen commitments valued at about £5 million. Of these,
ten were in support of Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan, concerned
with the provision of basic welfare services including primary
education and health, and food security. Six were in Afghanistan,
focusing mainly on emergency relief, but also on food security
DFID STRATEGY SINCE
6. DFID's current objectives are to:
help meet immediate life-saving needs
(food, water, healthcare, shelter) within Afghanistan;
support refugee needs for assistance
and protection in neighbouring countries (and cross-border operations
help neighbouring countries to shoulder
the additional burden of refugees through programmes which benefit
host populations, for example in health care, food, water and
strengthen international humanitarian
agency capacity and coordination;
help re-establish the international
community's presence inside Afghanistan as soon as circumstances
support the peacemaking efforts of
the Special Representative of the Secretary General, and encourage
forward planning for Afghanistan's post-conflict recovery.
7. In order to maximise humanitarian delivery
into Afghanistan, especially before winter snows make operations
more difficult in some areas, we are currently supporting the
UN, Red Cross and NGOs. Their aim is to deliver as much food,
medical and other assistance as possible, while opening up new
land convoy routes into Afghanistan. Contingency plans for airdrops
or airlifts are also in place, as measures of last resort.
8. The Northern Alliance (NA) advance is
potentially significant for humanitarian programmes because it
should allow, for the first time in the current crisis, direct
access to Afghanistan's most vulnerable people, i.e. those that
are the poorest and worst affected by drought but have received
the least help in recent weeks. Specifically, it should allow
delivery of humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable people
in the Northern Region, including helping the internally displaced
to return home before the winter gets worse. It should also allow
access to areas that will become more difficult to reach during
the winter, enabling stockpiling relief supplies. There is sufficient
current and pipeline capability among UN and other civilian humanitarian
organisations in all neighbouring countries to expand distribution
into Afghanistan as new opportunities open up.
DFID ACTIONS SINCE
11 SEPTEMBER: INSIDE
9. Since 11 September, we have set aside
£40 million for immediate humanitarian assistance to Afghans.
I made £25 million of this available from existing DFID resources
on 19 September, and announced a further £15 million on 18
October, which the Chancellor made available from the Central
10. So far allocations of over £36
million have been made, of which over £22 million has been
disbursed to UN agencies, the Red Cross Movement and NGOs. The
balance will be made available when satisfactory accounts and
interim reports are submitted by agencies that have already received
funding. We have allocated £6 million to both WFP and UNICEF;
£3 million to both UNHCR and WHO; £2 million to OCHA;
£2 million to UNMAS; £800,000 to UNSECOORD; £4
million to the Red Cross movement; £1.6 million to IOM; and
£5 million to NGOs. Allocations to UN agencies include technical,
logistical and other material support. We have seconded a site
planning specialist to UNHCR in Pakistan; two specialists to OCHA
in Pakistan to set up a Humanitarian Information Centre; four
air operations advisers to UNHCR in Geneva and to WFP in Rome
and Islamabad; and a nutrition specialist to UNICEF in Pakistan.
Further details of DFID allocations are at Annex B.
11. We have strengthened the DFID office
in Islamabad with additional staff, as well as placed DFID specialists
in Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to work alongside
British Embassies and international agencies there.
12. At the request of UNHCR, DFID has provided
three relief flights to Iran and Pakistan consisting of tents,
shelter material and communications equipment. A flight to Uzbekistan
is planned shortly to support the anticipated increase in aid
operations into northern Afghanistan. Details are listed in Annex
13. My Department has a well rehearsed system
for ensuring that emergency proposals are processed speedily.
Decisions are made on the basis of expressed need, agency track
record, technical merit, and ability to deliver on the ground.
Once a funding decision has been made in principle, the receiving
agency is notified immediately through a pledge letter. This is
usually sufficient for agencies to begin implementation while
formal grant agreements are signed and the funding processed.
DFID ACTIONS SINCE
11 SEPTEMBER: REFUGEE-HOSTING
14. On 18 October, I announced a £15
million package of economic assistance to support the Government
of Pakistan in its continuing economic reforms. This is in addition
to the £11 million that has been set aside for assistance
to poorer communities in Pakistan, particularly those most affected
by new influxes of refugees, and the ongoing £15 million
programme of targeted technical assistance in the areas of economic
management, education and health.
15. The £11 million will support the
delivery of public health services through the Lady Health Worker
Programme, the supply of drugs and health equipment, and water
and sanitation services through the Sarhad Rural Support Programme.
It will focus particularly on North West Frontier Province and
Baluchistan, where most of the Afghan refugees have settled, but
will also take account of Pakistan-wide needs.
16. The operating environment in Afghanistan
was very difficult before September. Since then it has become
more challenging. Factors include the uncertain security situation;
the dangers of mines and unexploded ordnance; the absence of international
humanitarian workers in most parts of the country; reduced numbers
of Afghan national staff due to their fears for personal safety;
and interference and restrictions by armed groups, particularly
in the use of communications equipment. As parts of Afghanistan
are secured, we hope that the situation will improve for increased
assistance to populations there. Elsewhere, difficulties are likely
to persist until the whole of the country is able to enjoy stable
security and a co-operative working environment.
17. The UN has estimated that there are
some 5 to 7.5 million vulnerable people inside Afghanistan. The
latest assessment of the humanitarian situation is as follows:
Food and nutrition
18. Though levels of chronic malnutrition
nationwide are high at 45-60% prevalence (typical for many poor
countries), there is currently no indication of significant famine-related
deaths. Annex D contains a WFP map of food insecure areas of Afghanistan.
The most food insecure areas are the provinces of the north and
centre of the country; the most needy in these areas total around
19. WFP reports that, in October, it managed
to despatch over 27,000 metric tonnes of food into the country.
In the week to 11 November alone, it despatched nearly 16,000
tonnes of food to Afghanistan (see Annex E for graph showing average
despatch figures). The average daily target of 1,700 tonnes is
now being exceeded; according to WFP, this has been achieved by
bypassing primary warehouses and increasing WFP trucking capacity
in the region.
20. DFID's best assessment, based on information
from humanitarian organisations, suggests that, by and large,
aid is reaching its intended beneficiaries. There are good prospects
for opening additional routes into the country, particularly as
access improves to different parts of the country.
21. The main suppliers of non-food assistance
(UNICEF, IOM, ICRC) are being increasingly effective in delivering
shelter materials, blankets, and clothing. We estimate that 80%
of the immediate needs for blankets, warm clothing, plastic sheeting
and tents for targeted vulnerable beneficiaries have been delivered.
22. Data on health conditions are patchy.
WHO's disease surveillance system, corroborated by other health
agencies, indicates that no serious epidemics have occurred. WHO
and UNICEF have shipped sufficient emergency health kits into
Afghanistan in October to serve 1.4 million people for three months.
Taking into account other agencies' programmes, about 40 per cent
of the immediate needs for medical supplies have been met. Agencies
are procuring further supplies to meet the rest.
23. Early reports of UNICEF and WHO's countrywide
polio immunisation and vitamin A campaign indicate that at least
45 per cent of its target of some 5.3 million children were reached.
24. The challenge of winter has been part
of our planning. The most difficult-to-reach areas are in the
Central Highlands and parts of the north-east. Overall some 0.5
million people are the most vulnerable. With the right equipment,
which is being procured, delivery of relief will still be possible
to most parts of the country. Airdrops have been planned as a
last resort, but the evolving security and access situation in
the country makes the need for these less pressing.
Internally Displaced Persons
25. Estimates of the number of internally
displaced inside Afghanistan range from 1-1.5 million, clustered
in around a dozen locations. Details are patchy and the UN is
working to improve its understanding of their distribution (a
map of current estimates is at Annex F). We know that the most
vulnerable are in the north and north-west. We also know of camps
near Herat, Chaman and Jalalabad housing some 50,000 people. Recent
military developments on the ground are allowing many of the internally
displaced to go home.
26. Communication difficulties and lack
of reliable information have long exacerbated the difficulties
of providing assistance to Afghanistan. We anticipate that this
will now improve rapidly. Co-ordination for humanitarian assistance
is the responsibility of the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination
of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which has appointed a Regional
Humanitarian Co-ordinator based in Islamabad, but who is due to
return to Kabul as soon as possible. My Department has allocated
£2 million to OCHA in response to the current crisis to support
these co-ordination efforts. This includes the provision of technical
personnel who have set up a Humanitarian Information Centre (HIC)
to collate and communicate humanitarian information on the needs
and programmes, to all concerned agencies. This contribution is
also being used to increase the capacity of the Offices of the
UN Resident Co-ordinators in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Pakistan
27. UNHCR believes that 100,000-135,000
Afghans have entered Pakistan since September 11. This is in addition
to the two million Afghans already living in Pakistan prior to
11 September, both in camps and absorbed into communities.
28. New arrivals to Pakistan are currently
being housed in existing camps or integrated into communities,
with some also being housed in Killi Faizo staging camp in Balochistan.
Camp conditions have been poor but are steadily improving as assistance
is delivered to refugees, and people are moved to better equipped
facilities. Several hundred of those in Killi Faizo have now begun
moving to a new camp at Roghani. Some 15 new camps are undergoing
preparation in Pakistan.
29. So far few new refugees have entered
Iran from Afghanistan. Previously between 1.5 and 2 million refugees
were reported to be living in Iran; at the same time several thousand
have also returned to Afghanistan in recent days.
30. Our overall assessment is that there
is now sufficient assistance being provided in Iran and Pakistan
to current refugees and sufficient reserve capacity to address
the needs of any foreseeable exodus. As the situation changes
inside Afghanistan, we anticipate large numbers of refugees will
31. Beyond immediate efforts, we are actively
involved in the process of forward planning for Afghanistan. This
is the central role of Ambassador Brahimi, Kofi Annan's Special
Representative for Afghanistan, who is working to develop a consensus
among Afghans and the international community on the future governance
of Afghanistan. Ambassador Brahimi and his United Nations Special
Mission for Afghanistan (UNSMA) have the support of a dedicated
Integrated Mission Task Force (IMTF) comprising senior representatives
of UN Agencies and Departments. We have earmarked £1 million
for strategic support to Ambassador Brahimi and his peace-making
efforts. This includes help to establish a Planning Task Group,
which is linking the IMTF to expertise in the Afghan diaspora.
DFID support to IOM is also planned to identify Afghan professionals
with skills relevant to reconstruction who can return to undertake
specific roles in their country.
32. The key UN agencies are making arrangements
to enable the rapid redeployment of international staff and equipment
inside Afghanistan as soon as security conditions allow. To backup
the UN, my Department is sending out a Field Support Team to Termez,
for onward deployment into Afghanistan as soon as possible. This
team will consist of six humanitarian specialists, communications
and logistics equipment. They will conduct emergency assessments,
expand the reach of emergency relief distribution and begin to
direct quick impact, local-level recovery activities. An outline
of the approach on promoting speedy recovery in Afghanistan is
at Annex G.
UN Donor Alert
33. Donors have offered over $720 million
towards the Afghanistan Crisis since September 11. See Annex H
for further details.
34. The European Commission has provided
18.5 million for the Afghanistan crisis since 11
September 2001. A further
15 million is expected to be agreed through ECHO
shortly. The UK contributes 19 per cent of EC funds, so that the
UK-attributed share of this total
33.5 million EC funding is
6.4 million (
3.9 million). Annex I contains specific information
on the EC contribution, including contributions through the European
Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO).
The Rt Hon Clare Short MP, Secretary of State
for International Development
Department for International Development
15 November 2001