With one in seven children dying before the age of five, and landmines littering the land, Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous places to live, and desperately in need of our help.
Although it has received years of international aid and there have been some positive and substantial changes, Afghanistan remains extremely poor. Around half of the children still don’t go to school, the under-five mortality rate is one in ten and 2.3 million people don’t have safe drinking water.
Poverty is killing more people in Afghanistan than direct fatalities from the ongoing conflict. The experience of the past decade has shown that real progress can be achieved with international aid, but that progress has been modest and huge challenges remain.
Islamic Relief in Afghanistan
Islamic Relief started working in Afghanistan in 1992, and we set up our first permanent office in 2001 in response to the conflict. It can be extremely dangerous working in the war-torn country, but when offered the opportunity to leave during the latest conflict, our staff bravely and unanimously voted to stay, determined to improve the lives of millions in need.
We work in a number of areas, from food provision (working with the World Food Programme) and water and sanitation, to education and orphan support and seasonal programmes like Ramadan and Qurbani distributions.
We provide emergency assistance to refugees, especially in the harsh and bitter winters, as well as working to give Afghans a chance at a better future through education and livelihoods support. For example, one of our projects helps women to set up weaving businesses from within their homes, enabling them to earn a living and support their family, while also meeting cultural sensitivities.
Current project: Healthcare for drug-affected families
Addiction to drugs has become a major public health issue for Afghanistan, while the booming opium trade continues to be a major obstacle on the path of stability and sustainable economic development. These twin challenges need urgent attention and a significant injection of funds from the Afghan government and the international community.
Afghanistan accounts for 90% of the world’s opium production and has the highest rate of drug addiction in the world, yet health facilities have the capacity to treat only 1% of the country’s 1 million or more addicts. Islamic Relief runs a successful village-based treatment and rehabilitation programme in the Balkh province, and is calling for an expanded national programme to tackle drug abuse.