Snowfall in Kabul

Afghanistan is in a humanitarian crisis. Here’s how you can help

Correction: We incorrectly used the name U.N. Human Rights Council, instead of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, also known as the U.N. Refugee Agency. This piece has been updated to reflect this correction. We regret the error.

In the aftermath of the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan in August and the Taliban’s takeover of its government, a human rights crisis has ballooned. As the country experiences a drought and a harsh winter, the global community has cut off non-humanitarian aid, frozen the government’s assets abroad and imposed harsh sanctions.

READ MORE: As Afghanistan confronts humanitarian crisis, U.S. to send $308 million in aid

More than 3.5 million people have been displaced by the crisis, and many Afghans are without jobs, money or enough food. As of early December, according to the U.N., nearly 23 million people are facing extreme hunger, and 9 million are at risk of famine in the country. Here’s a roundup of some of the organizations that are working inside the country in an effort to deliver aid to people in Afghanistan. 

  • The World Food Program: Several branches of the United Nations are providing humanitarian aid to Afghans. The World Food Program “provides unconditional, fortified and nutritionally-balanced food assistance to people in need,” according to its website on its Afghanistan work. In December, UNICEF launched its largest-ever single country appeal for aid to help Afghanistan’s children, saying $2 billion is necessary to avoid total collapse. You can donate to UNICEF here
  • The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees: The program, which provides assistance and aid to refugees, is distributing hygiene kits to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among displaced people in temporary shelters, as well as emergency cash support and winterization assistance, such as blankets, solar lanterns and tent insulation kits. Tax deductible donations in the U.S. can be made to USA for UNHCR; otherwise, donations can be made directly to the UNHCR.
  • The International Committee of the Red Cross is also providing aid to Afghans “by helping wounded and disabled people, supporting hospitals, making prison visits and helping detainees maintain contact with their families,” among other services. Donate to the ICRC here.
  • The Norwegian Refugee Council, an independent humanitarian organization helping refugees, provides a wide variety of services to Afghans. The group manages displaced persons camps, works to increase education access for children, provides counseling and legal services, distributes food assistance, establishes shelters and helps businesses, among other services. Donate to the NRC here.
  • Aga Khan Development Network: The AKDN is a network of private, independent, non-denominational agencies that provide aid in the developing world, primarily in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. In Afghanistan, AKDN recently announced it was expanding its collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme to support Afghans, including providing “essential health services, food security and access to renewable energy.” Donate here in the U.S., here in Canada and here in the U.K. and Europe.

How to avoid charity scams

Avoid unfamiliar agencies and websites. There is a history of scammers creating websites that look like donation pages after a major tragedy, but in reality were a scam. Make sure that where you’re donating is a legitimate organization or a group that has a proven record of delivering aid.

Beware of phone calls and emails soliciting donations.

Do your research to determine if organizations are legitimate. Charity Navigator lists reputable organizations. GreatNonprofits and Give Well have reviews of nonprofit groups and can help you see how much of your money goes directly to relief.