In an open letter to the Foreign Secretary, humanitarian organisations warn that the window to save millions of Afghan lives is closing fast if the UK government does not provide additional funding.
LONDON, 1 February - Leading humanitarian organisations including Save the Children UK, International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Concern Worldwide, have urged Liz Truss to provide more money for Afghanistan, warning that the government’s window of opportunity to pay its fair share of a $4.4 billion UN appeal and save countless lives “is closing fast.”
In an open letter to the Foreign Secretary, the charity leaders said that the £286 million of UK aid announced so far is not enough because it amounts to just £7.15 for each of the 40 million people at risk in Afghanistan.
The country is facing its worst food crisis on record, with Save the Children staff in Afghanistan reporting price increases as high as 63% on goods such as flour, oil, beans and gas. As a result, increasing numbers of families, are being pressed to make desperate, life-altering decisions in order to afford basic items and survive.
The charity leaders, including Gwen Hines, CEO of Save the Children UK, Laura Kyrke Smith, UK Executive Director at IRC, Danny Harvey, Executive Director at Concern Worldwide UK, Patrick Watt, Interim CEO at Christian Aid, Chris Roles, Managing Director at Age International, and Major General (Ret’d) J M Cowan CBE DSO, CEO of HALO Trust, are urging Truss to “step up now” and convene a global summit immediately to respond practically and financially to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
In the letter, they said: “Five million Afghan children are on the brink of famine. Every day, more people are succumbing to illness and starvation. With 98% of families not having enough to eat, some are resorting to desperate measures - even selling their children. Our staff on the ground report suffering on a scale that most of us cannot comprehend.”
They added: “The UK Government would have public support if you chose to go further and faster and respond with urgency and compassion to the scale of the catastrophe underway.”
More than 20,000 people have signed Save the Children’s ‘Save Afghan Lives’ petition and more than £24 million has been donated by the British public to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Afghanistan Crisis Appeal to date.
Notes to Editors:
- Save the Children has been working in Afghanistan since 1976. The charity is providing emergency treatment for malnutrition, cash for families to buy food and other essentials, blankets, warm clothes and shoes for families facing the extreme winter and shelter materials, hygiene kits and kitchen supplies for those forced to leave their homes. They are also providing primary, newborn and maternal health services.
- Organisations signing the open letter include:
- Save the Children UK – Gwen Hines, CEO
- International Rescue Committee (IRC) – Laura Kyrke Smith, UK Executive Director
- Concern Worldwide (UK) - Danny Harvey, Executive Director
- CAFOD – Christine Allen, Director
- Christian Aid – Patrick Watt, Interim CEO
- Age International - Chris Roles, Managing Director
- HALO Trust - Major General (Ret’d) J M Cowan CBE DSO, CEO
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Dear Foreign Secretary,
We are writing to you about the unfolding humanitarian emergency in Afghanistan.
5 million Afghan children are on the brink of famine. Every day, more people are succumbing to illness and starvation. With 98% of families not having enough to eat, some are resorting to desperate coping strategies - even selling their children. Our staff and partners on the ground report suffering on a scale that most of us cannot comprehend.
The window to save millions of lives is closing fast. The UN has launched its largest ever single country appeal – $4.4 billion – and needs wealthy countries like the UK to step up now.
The British public has responded with enormous empathy to this crisis. An extraordinary 20,000 people have signed the Save the Children petition. It calls on the UK Government to convene a global summit immediately to respond practically and financially to the humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan, and to fund its fair share of the UN Appeal.
The British people have also donated more than £20 million to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Afghanistan Crisis Appeal.
The UK Government would have public support if you chose to go further and faster and respond with urgency and compassion to the scale of the catastrophe underway. We welcome the release of the rest of the £286 million in UK aid announced 6 months ago. However, this sum amounts to just £7.15 for each of the 40 million people now at risk in Afghanistan. The Government must urgently provide additional humanitarian funding that reflects this level of desperate need. It should also use its diplomatic influence to bring other donor countries around the table to meet the UN’s call for life-saving funds.
As well as supporting the emergency response, FCDO must also prioritise international efforts to ensure essential public services are restored and to keep the Afghan state and economy from collapsing.
There isn’t a moment to lose. The UK Government must not walk by on the other side of the road. The Afghan people deserve better, and the British public demand it.
Gwen Hines – CEO, Save the Children UK
Laura Kyrke Smith – UK Executive Director, IRC
Danny Harvey - Executive Director, Concern Worldwide (UK)
Christine Allen - Director, CAFOD
Patrick Watt - Interim CEO, Christian Aid
Chris Roles - Managing Director, Age International
Major General (Ret’d) J M Cowan CBE DSO – CEO, HALO Trust
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