This week, we have witnessed the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban and the tragic earthquake in Haiti, on top of the multitude of ongoing humanitarian crises across the world. Since the rise of Taliban, more than 400,000 Afghans have been internally displaced and the situation there is in turmoil. The sudden and unexpected fall of the Afghan Government has created chaos in a country which was steadily being rebuilt. The country was already enduring a humanitarian crisis, dealing with drought and the displacement of people into neighbouring countries. Although Trócaire does not work on the ground in Afghanistan, people are still in need of humanitarian assistance.
Many Afghans now fear the loss of human rights gains won over the last two decades, particularly violations to the rights of women and girls. Last year, there was a continued trend of authoritarianism and corruption in countries where Trócaire works, which was exacerbated by Covid-19. 2020. It was one of the most challenging years for the protection of human rights.
In Haiti, buildings have collapsed including an estimated 10,000 homes, churches, schools and hospitals.The earthquake has left more than 1,200 people dead, up to 6,000 people injured and the search continues through the rubble. Local aid workers are carrying out rapid assessments on the scale of the damage and the immediate needs of people. The southern peninsula is a remote area of the island, and fears are now growing that tropical storm Grace will add further to the urgent humanitarian needs of vulnerable people.
Humanitarian needs are on the rise across the world and acceleraed by climate change and the pandemic. Climate change continues to cause severe and irreparable damage, including millions of migrants, and the global pandemic of COVID-19 has paralysed the world socially and economically. Given the COVID 19 pandemic, the displacement of thousands of families risks the spread of infection at a time when local health systems are already struggling to treat the wounded in Haiti.
On World Humanitarian Day we pay tribute to all our front-line aid workers working to deliver urgent humanitarian assistance in some of the most dangerous places. In 2020, 475 aid workers were attacked, 108 were killed, 242 wounded and 125 kidnapped. Most of the violence took place in South Sudan, Syria, and DRC. Other high incident contexts included Central African Republic and Mali, where incidents more than doubled since 2018. On World Humanitarian Day we pay tribute to all of our aid workers and partners on the frontline of these crises.
Time is already running out for the world’s most vulnerable people – in 2021, 235 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection. The natural disasters that unleash on the most impoverished nations are a strong call for more attention to protect, defend and save lives through political action.