Disaster Response. Step One.
Since the 2021 Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, the precarious humanitarian situation in the country has continued to worsen. According to the Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan for 2023, of the 42 million people in Afghanistan, 28.8 million are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance – over half of whom are children. Acute food insecurity is impacting 15.3 million people, and 60% of households do not have consistent access to safe drinking water – exacerbating issues with cholera and other diseases. Additionally, Afghans face a stark lack of accessible medical care, with 14 million people targeted by the WHO for health assistance.
Not only do the Afghan people face humanitarian issues related to the Taliban – but the country is also impacted heavily by climate change. Over the last two years, the shocks from recurrent droughts and seasonal flooding have severely impacted the agricultural sector and the availability of clean water. In the face of all of these challenges, the Afghan humanitarian needs are desperately underfunded – with less than 30% of the UN’s funding request fulfilled.
On top of these immense challenges, a series of two 6.3 magnitude earthquakes struck Afghanistan in the western Herat province on Oct. 7th, 2023, followed by a powerful aftershock on Oct. 11th. Over 4,000 people have died, and 10,000 have been impacted, with these numbers expected to rise as search and rescue and needs assessment continue. The country is still recovering from last year’s major 6.2-magnitude earthquake that occurred in the mountainous region of eastern Afghanistan, killing over 1,000 people.
Making the Impossible Possible: Logistics Constraints & Airlink’s Role
Airlink is committed to long-term support for the people of Afghanistan. Since 2022, Airlink has supported six NGO partners by providing airlift for critical humanitarian cargo – including medical supplies and vital nutritional aid.
Commercial airfreight rates are a barrier to response for a large sector of the NGO community, and working in Afghanistan is no different. Afghanistan is a particularly challenging context due to the stringent customs procedures on goods entering the country and the lack of commercial air providers that service Kabul and other major cities. This means that Airlink is an essential partner for NGOs in this response.
By supporting NGOs through our private-sector airline network, Airlink has been able to provide exponential cost savings to our NGO partners, totaling $250,000 in transportation value. This is vital because it means that NGOs are instead able to spend those resources on in-country programming and directly supporting the needs of the people of Afghanistan.
Humanitarian Aid for Infants and Mothers with the Bayat Foundation:
“This infant formula was distributed to vulnerable families in multiple IDP camps in the greater Kabul area, including Camp-e-Millibuss and Camp-e-Gosfandara, who are totally reliant on food donations…More than 20 million Afghans are facing food insecurity, and nearly 9M Afghans are categorized by UN entities as facing immediate famine. Many of the impacted are young Afghans, and IDP families simply have no economic means to purchase infant formula, nor are most mothers healthy/strong enough to feed their newborns/infants adequately on their own. Therefore, the distribution of infant formula is critical to fill the “nutrition” gap…
Without Airlink’s generous support…Bayat Foundation would not have been able to provide the critically needed infant formula to vulnerable and increasingly desperate families in IDP camps in Afghanistan. We simply did not have the financial resources to air freight the formula commercially, and – given tremendous issues with overland transit through Pakistan – airlift is the only reliable method…
Air freight into Afghanistan is extremely expensive, and sea freight is subject to significant delays. Therefore, Airlink’s generous support to airlift infant formula into Kabul allowed the Bayat Foundation to spend its scarce financial resources on procuring additional humanitarian items that were also distributed to vulnerable families. These items include clothing, food, diapers, wipes, and medical supplies. Therefore, Airlink’s support ‘freed up’ money that was used to scale our humanitarian relief program, and also, the speed of air freight and avoidance of seaport transit issues in Karachi allowed us to respond to the urgent need for formula in a more timely manner.”