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UNHCR provides assistance to vulnerable Afghans as harsh winter arrives

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KABUL: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has provided what it said a life-saving assistance to some 150,000 of the most vulnerable people aimed at helping them survive the harsh winter, a statement from the organization said Monday.
“Afghanistan’s harsh winters mean that heating is a matter of survival for people in many parts of the country. During the 2017-2018 winter season, 33 out of 34 provinces were affected by extreme weather conditions including heavy snowfall, avalanches and other natural disasters,” said the statement.
This winter, as part of coordinated efforts to provide emergency assistance to vulnerable people displaced by drought and conflict as well as vulnerable host communities, recent returnees and refugees, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), together with the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation (MoRR) and a number of partners, are distributing cash assistance to families in all 34 provinces across the country, according to the statement.
As of 24 December 2018, over 58,000 of the most vulnerable have been reached as part of the annual winterization program. In total, UNHCR plans to support more than 150,000 Afghan returnees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees and members of host communities across the country.
As part of the program, UNHCR and MoRR are now distributing assistance to some 17,500 vulnerable Afghans in Kabul. “Provision of support in the form of unconditional cash assistance, approximately $200, for identified beneficiaries will help keep them dry and warm while long-term sustainable solutions for protracted displacement are pursued,” said Fathiaa Abdalla, UNHCR’s Representative for Afghanistan.
From 1 November, UNHCR and MoRR, together with their partners, have jointly identified those among the Afghan population who are most vulnerable to the winter conditions, including female heads of household and families without income. It is expected that some 30,000 individuals in the Central region, including Kabul, will receive support to help them get through the harsh winter months. UNHCR has already provided winterization assistance to more than 17,000 individuals in the North and North-Eastern provinces, over 33,000 in the Western region, and nearly 6,500 in the Eastern region.
A total of 620,000 people are estimated countrywide to be in need of assistance this winter. While humanitarian agencies and the Afghan Government will be able to provide over 420,000 individuals (60,000 families) with winterization assistance, there remains a gap of at least 28,000 families still in need.
Within this program, UNHCR and its partners will support some 60,000 refugees from Pakistan along with the communities hosting them in Khost and Paktika provinces to ensure they are prepared for the winter. Cash-based interventions provide social safety nets for the winter and help ensure that families can priorities fuel types according to the local market. It has become increasingly clear that cash-based interventions play a key role in assisting people who have been displaced.
Additionally, as lead agency of the Emergency Shelter and Non-Food Items Cluster that supports IDPs across the country, UNHCR and its partners, in coordination with the Afghan Government, are also distributing over 15,000 tents to drought-affected IDPs as part of a coordinated humanitarian response.
The distribution of family tents to some 480 displaced families in Herat is ongoing while it is expected to begin in Badghis province this week. These efforts are aimed at addressing the immediate critical humanitarian needs of more than 21,000 drought affected families currently displaced throughout the Western region. Most of the displaced families currently live in displacement sites in Herat City and in sites scattered in and around the provincial capital of Badghis, Qala-e-Naw.
So far this year, a total of 316,470 people have been verified as being displaced by conflict in 2018, according to OCHA’s Displacement Tracking System (DTS). Overall, the number of people displaced so far this year is nearly 35 percent less than the same period last year of 485,310.
The Kabul Times

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