UNHCR launches winter aid for some 200,000 vulnerable Afghans

1 Dec 2009

UNHCR launches winter aid for some 200,000 vulnerable Afghans

KABUL - As temperatures drop around the country, UNHCR, its partners and the Afghan government are working together to provide relief supplies to help some 200,000 vulnerable people cope with the harsh winter.


UNHCR has pre-positioned winter supplies throughout the country. Distribution begins today for 1500 individuals (250 poor families) living in Kabul city who will receive blankets, sweaters, plastic sheets, jerry cans and bags of charcoal.

“The beneficiaries of our winter assistance this year are a mix of the poorer recent returnees and internally displaced people, as well as others at particular risk in the cold winter weather.” said UNHCR’s Afghanistan Representative Mr Ewen Macleod.

“Since 2007, our winterization strategy has emphasised preparedness rather than emergency response. By giving out warm clothes, shoes and other winter relief early in the season, we hope to prevent illness and hardship for the most vulnerable people,” he said.

UNHCR’s ‘winterization’ drive is based on an earlier needs assessment of tens of thousands of families across the country which identified specific needs in each area. The assistance package varies in different locations, but includes plastic sheets, blankets and jerry cans as core items.

More than 177,000 blankets, 60,000 plastic sheets, 60,000 jerry cans, and 620,000 items of warm clothing including shawls, sweaters, shoes and socks have been purchased and sent to UNHCR’s regional offices for countrywide distribution. In addition to non-food assistance and heating materials, in certain areas, more than 12,000 vulnerable families (72,000 individuals) will receive a cash voucher worth US$30 to buy heating materials or other items of their choice from identified retailers.

The refugee agency has teamed up with the government and local partners to ensure relief can reach the less accessible rural areas so rural families in dire need can also be assisted.

In the western region, 48,000 individuals (8,000 returnee and IDP families) will receive help this winter including 3,500 families in Herat province, 1,500 families in Badghis, 1,500 in Farah, 1,000 in Ghor, some 500 families in Nimroz. UNHCR had already pre-positioned relief supplies in some of these areas where heavy snow would otherwise impede access.

In the eastern region, where 30 percent of returned refugees have gone this year, more than 4,100 returnee and displaced families will receive help this winter – with priority being given to those vulnerable returnees in Nangarhar, Laghaman and Kunar provinces, and the returnee families in various returnee settlements established in 2005 and 2008.

In the south, 24,000 individuals (4,000 vulnerable returnee and IDP families) will receive UNHCR’s help this winter, including 1,500 families in Kandahar, 1,000 in Helmand, 750 in Zabul and 750 in Urzugan. Stocks are currently being sourced and centralized in Kandahar, before pre-positioning and distribution in the provinces in the coming weeks.

In the south-eastern region, 3,000 mainly returnee families living in Paktya and Khost will receive winter packages of relief items and warm clothes.

In the central region, 4,650 families will receive UNHCR’s help this winter, including the 250 families in Kabul city. Distribution will continue in Parwan, Kapisa, Logar and Ghazni provinces in the coming days to people recently returned from Pakistan’s refugee camps, returned refugees living in government land allocation sites and internally displaced people.

In the Central Highlands, one of the coldest regions, UNHCR will be delivering relief items to over 4,500 individuals (750 returnee families) in Bamiyan and, through the Department of Refugees and Repatriation (DoRR), in Daikundi province.

In the north and north-eastern region, UNHCR will next week start providing blankets, clothes, plastic sheets, and bags of coal and charcoal to 3500 families in Balkh, Faryab, Samangan, Jawzjan and Sar-i-Pul provinces. 1500 distributions will start simultaneously in Kunduz, Baghlan and Takhar provinces and they are expected to be completed by end of December.

“In addition to the assistance received from UNHCR, many more Afghans will receive help from other agencies and private donors due to the agency’s awareness raising and advocacy efforts.” said Grainne OHARA, UNHCR’s head of central region office.

UNHCR is urging donors to direct their assistance to outlying communities such as the internally displaced people in Ghazni and newly returned refugees in Logar and Wardak, some of whom are still landless and homeless.

UNHCR Kabul Office Tel 0093 (020) 2200 381
Public Information Unit Fax (0041) 22 739 7501

For further information please contact +93 (0) 700 279 231

M. Nadir Farhad
Public Information Officer
+93(0) 799 205 711