At Afghanistan Pledging Conference, Urgent Humanitarian Funding Needed as Economy Teeters on the Edge of Collapse

March 31, 2022

Statement by Michael McKean, Executive Director for Mercy Corps Europe

“With the world’s attention focused on Ukraine, the international community must not turn its back on Afghans in dire need of support. Today's pledging conference to galvanize support for Afghanistan comes at a critical time as the country faces the imminent collapse of its economy and social systems, with millions of lives at stake.  

“More than 24 million Afghans need humanitarian aid and 95% of the population is not getting enough to eat. Broken health care systems, deteriorating public services and a devastating winter have pushed Afghans living on the edge further into crisis. 

"We call on donors to ensure that this $4.4B funding appeal is fulfilled, preserving funding for development and economic recovery initiatives alongside humanitarian funding that is flexible, multiyear, and also available to local organizations. 

“At the same time, humanitarian response cannot replace a functioning economy. Afghanistan’s economy is currently crippled by hyperinflation, a critical shortage of cash, a central bank that isn’t functioning and civil servants going unpaid, leading to a collapse of public services. Even as donors step up to respond to the humanitarian crisis we see today, they must invest in realistic solutions that support the failing banking system and address sanctions and liquidity challenges head on. The summit must also reengage the World Bank, IMF and other international finance institutions, including regional banks, to bolster the economy. Without cash in banks and a functioning financial services industry, humanitarian funding, while critical, will not be enough.”

Mercy Corps has worked in Afghanistan since 1986, partnering with communities to improve the quality of life for Afghans, from better sanitation services to agriculture and vocational training. Mercy Corps programs have helped young people become more employable, and address the shortage of skilled workers by providing vocational training for in-demand jobs. Mercy Corps has also worked to strengthen the agricultural sector and increase food production in Afghanistan.