Miriam is one of the over 5.5 million internally displaced in Afghanistan; she lost three sons in the recent conflict and has not heard from her remaining living son since he left home to seek a job abroad two months ago. “Being so uncertain about his fate and whereabouts is painful,” Miriam told an IOM worker with tears streaming down her face. Miriam, and many others like her, are dependent on IOM’s Humanitarian Assistance Programme.
IOM’s operations in Afghanistan continue across multiple provinces since the heart-wrenching events of August witnessed worldwide in the news and on social media. More than 630,000 individuals have been newly displaced by conflict this year; almost half of whom left their homes since July and an additional 28,000 have been displaced by disasters.
IOM has maintained a consistent presence in Afghanistan since 1992 through conflict, humanitarian crises, and natural disaster, and we remain committed to supporting the Afghan people, men, women, and children alike, with their immediate humanitarian needs as the first concern. IOM has launched an urgent appeal for USD 24 million to scale up its response to the most pressing, life-saving needs. At this stage, IOM is providing emergency shelter and core relief items to Afghans who have been displaced from their home jointly with the World Food Programme allowing families to receive essential food and non-food items together.
IOM also delivers development and community stabilization programming to support people on the move across Afghanistan. This includes health services, including primary healthcare, reproductive healthcare, COVID-19 response, and mental health support; protection case management and monitoring; support to small businesses; disaster risk reduction; and holistic community development interventions supporting stabilized communities and bolstered resilience.
IOM refuses to abandon the people of Afghanistan, and we are thankful we are not alone in our commitment. As the events in August unfold with scenes of despair and desperation, the US public showed concern, care, and support.
Last year, 2020, marked a record high for US private sector and philanthropic individuals’ charitable contributions. The resilience and responsiveness of the American people to increased and widespread needs throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is encouraging and inspiring. As the need persists, we are confident the response of the US public will as well.
If you are interested in supporting the meaningful, crucial work of IOM in Afghanistan, please contribute HERE.
I know I’m not alone when I say that this week has been a heavy one. Leading up to this year’s #worldhumanitarianday, and in the wake of recent events in Haiti and Afghanistan, USA for IOM team and I have been reflecting on how fundraising can enhance its impact through proactive, sustainable investment in development.
It is important to note that while last week’s events were sudden, they were not entirely unpredictable. Sitting on a fault-line in the Caribbean, #Haiti is vulnerable to disasters. What makes this event truly devastating is the underlying social and economic instability that will, in all likelihood, prevent a speedy recovery. We are deploying trucks with food and tents to communities still struggling to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake. And the myriad challenges facing #Afghanistan, which has suffered governance, socio-economic, and development challenges as a result of decades of conflict, are similarly structural and historic.
In responding to these crises, I often feel we are putting bandages on bullet holes. We can take comfort in the Talmudic proverb, “whoever saves one life, saves the world entire,” I feel as though launching emergency relief responses to predictable crises reveals the Sisyphus complex of the philanthropic sector.
To break free from this cycle, we in philanthropy must be proactive and truly start to use our platform and our tools to engender a world that is not less prone to crises, but one with the social and economic fortitude to be more resilient to them. We must focus on the transformation the world needs beyond the crisis du jour and then focus our resources on proactive solutions.
In a way, this also helps answer another question: how do we prioritize emergency responses? When disaster strikes it’s easy to mobilize action for a cause. But once the faces of distant suffering fade from the frontpages, action too begins to wane. In the past I’ve found myself reaching for a bigger, louder bullhorn, feeling the need to scream “look over here, look over there, we still need you here!”
I believe that by shifting philanthropy to focus on addressing the roots of an issue—the systemic challenges that underpin human suffering–we can avoid the pressure to see humanitarian needs as competing, and instead view them as simultaneous. If funders make not only deep but longstanding investments in a cause or region maybe it will relieve the anxiety the fundraising community feels to fight for attention. Moving forward, I want to learn how I, my team as agents to support development and human mobility, can cultivate and encourage that level of donor dedication long before the needs are urgent.
I encourage comments on: How can philanthropy transform our world? What’s the strategy to this game of whack-a-mole? Is it possible to “care” about everything all at once? And how can we translate care into effective, sustained action? #philanthropy