The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes a EUR 500,000 contribution from the European Union (EU) to support the food needs of communities in the Afghan provinces of Paktika and Khost which were affected by an earthquake in late June. The funds will help WFP deliver emergency food assistance to more than 170,000 earthquake-affected people over six months. The EU’s contribution, made through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department, comes on top of the EUR 15.5 million the EU recently provided to WFP’s Afghanistan response.
“The majority of the people of Afghanistan are reeling from the effects of the ongoing economic crisis and cannot absorb any exacerbating shocks, including the earthquake that has hit these provinces,” said Marianna Franco, who oversees EU humanitarian programmes in Afghanistan. “We are stepping up our support to ensure WFP has dedicated funding for this environmental disaster that comes as an emergency on top of an emergency.”
The 5.9 magnitude earthquake that struck eastern Afghanistan on 22 June 2022 – the strongest the country has known in over 20 years – further devastated families already struggling to meet their basic needs during a time of acute economic and political upheaval. More than two months later, families are still living in emergency shelters as their destroyed homes are structurally unsafe, and communities still rely largely on humanitarian assistance for survival.
“WFP was on the ground immediately to assess the damage and respond,” said WFP Afghanistan’s Country Director Mary-Ellen McGroarty. “Through heavy rain and winds and poor internet connectivity, WFP and our partners have been working to reach those affected with food and supplies, but the communities in these provinces will need our support for several months as they rebuild. We are thankful to the EU for being one of the first donors to contribute towards this urgent need, which enabled our swift deployment of food and logistics equipment.”
The new funding will help boost WFP’s ability to replenish its food supplies over several months and to transition from distributing emergency High-Energy Biscuits (HEB) to full food baskets of wheat flour, vegetable oil, pulses and salt in the districts of Giyan and Bamal in Paktika Province, and Spera in Khost Province.
One year into an economic collapse, humanitarian needs in Afghanistan are at an all-time high, further strained by soaring global food and energy prices due to the conflict in Ukraine. Hunger is cutting across socioeconomic divides, with 18.9 million people experiencing acute levels of food insecurity and 6 million one step away from famine. Overall in 2022, WFP has reached more than 21 million people with food and nutrition support.
The EU’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid department has been a long-time donor for WFP Afghanistan, having contributed over EUR 75.5 million since 2021 towards WFP’s emergency assistance to people affected by conflict and natural hazards in the country.