Humanitarian aid is struggling!

Mohamad-Ali, 2, receives two drops of polio vaccine in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan @ Sayed Maroof Hamdard

Martin Griffiths, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (OCHA /BCAH), said on December 2 in New York that next year, in 2022, 274 million people in the world would need humanitarian assistance and that this would require a budget of 41 billion dollars.

We remember that a year ago, Mark Lowcock, who then occupied the post of Martin Griffiths, had launched an appeal for 235 million people, against 168 million in 2020, for a budget of 35.1 billion dollars according to the Global Humanitarian Overview of OCHA (GHO). In his report, Martin Griffiths acknowledges that the UN was only able to help 107 million victims in 2021 out of 168 million!

So we have not helped all the populations in danger! What happened to the people who were not rescued or were only slightly rescued? Why are we not able to help them? Who is responsible? Is the humanitarian system underfunded or do aid actors lack the necessary capacity, if not the will?

But are assessments of the number of people to be helped relevant? Aid needs are diverse in nature and volume and require a comprehensive but also local and targeted approach. Is this the case? Have we been prevented from accessing certain populations because of war or interdiction?

My purpose here is not to judge, because I know how complex these questions are, but rather to question the humanitarian ecosystem and its financiers so that the means meet vital needs as much as possible, since the raison d’être of humanitarian aid is to save lives, not to leave anyone behind and to anticipate the relaunch of development.

Among the countries in major crisis, there are these: Syria, Yemen, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Afghanistan, which today illustrates our concern and our call for a surge.

Afghanistan is on the brink of collapse.

Afghanistan (2020) @Omid-Fazel / UNICEF

According to a November 8 report by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), more than half of the Afghan population, 22.8 million out of 38 million Afghans, are now facing acute food insecurity.

Already in October, the UN declared that more than three million children under the age of 5 were facing malnutrition and UNICEF warned in September that, without immediate treatment, one million children were at risk of dying of malnutrition. Yes, you read that right, one million children are in danger of dying!

On August 15, all the world’s media focused on the Kabul airport for weeks, where are they today? There was a lot of talk about human rights then, so why isn’t it being talked about now? Are human rights not also the right to food, water, health care and shelter? Are human rights subject to political preconditions decided by whom and for what?

We cannot say that we do not know.

And yet, we can’t say we don’t know when David Beasley, the executive director of the WFP, said on the BBC on November 8: “This is as bad as you can imagine. In fact, we are now witnessing the worst humanitarian crisis on earth. As many as 95% of people do not have enough food.

At a UN conference for Afghanistan on September 13 in Geneva, it was estimated that emergency humanitarian aid needed $606 million by the end of the year to meet the basic needs of 11 million Afghans. And Paris had announced to contribute up to 100 million euros according to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Antonio Gueterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, said: “Let’s be clear: this conference is not just about what we are going to give to the Afghan people. It is about what we must.

WFP to negotiate passage for food aid through Afghanistan. @WFP / Massoud Hossaini.

Three months later, we see that the number of Afghans to be helped has risen from 11 million to 22.8 million. This gives a dizzying idea of the race against the worst. So, has the $606 million been raised and is it being used to save lives? How do we supplement these funds when the number of Afghans at risk has doubled in three months? As David Beasley says, “Hunger is growing and children are dying.

It is a death struggle against time that is engaged. Afghans are victims of the combined effects of drought, long years of conflict and their consequences, of the covid-19 and of the economic crisis that has been raging since August. Will the question of the responsibility of the international community, of the UN, of NATO eventually arise?

According to the testimonies of humanitarians I contacted in Afghanistan and in Paris: “There is currently no hindrance or interference with our humanitarian action and the improved security conditions allow us to make trips that were not possible before. Other humanitarians testify: “The main constraints are the international sanctions, the paralysis of the banking system and the difficulties of access to the country.

Preventing rather than counting victims.

Recently back from Afghanistan, the director of operations of the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross), Dominique Stillhart, published a lucid and courageous op-ed in which he wrote “Why the anger? Because there is nothing inevitable about this suffering. The economic sanctions that are supposed to punish those in power in Kabul only deprive millions of Afghans of the essential goods and services they need to survive. The international community is turning its back on the country while it runs into a man-made catastrophe.

Preventing humanitarian catastrophe is the top priority and for that the international community must change its posture. In the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report published by WFP and FAO, it is stated that during the lean season, from November 2021 to March 2022, more than one in two Afghans will be acutely food insecure. Everyone is warned.

What a responsibility for the international community.

Reacting is urgent to prevent the humanitarian catastrophe that is now underway as the harsh winter will isolate much of the country and millions of people, especially farmers. As Mr. Qu Donggyu, Director General of the FAO, said: “We cannot stand by and watch the humanitarian disaster that is happening before our eyes, it is unacceptable.

WFP trucks deliver food to remote and hard-to-reach areas in northeastern Badakhshan province before roads were blocked by snow @PAM Afghanistan

It was Martin Griffiths who gave an estimate of the financial means needed to face this major humanitarian crisis when he declared at the United Nations on December 2 that “the world’s largest humanitarian appeal of $4.47 billion is for Afghanistan, closely followed by appeals in Syria and Yemen.

My experience in Afghanistan has taught me that there are two mistakes not to make. The first is not to abandon this country as was the case after the withdrawal of Soviet troops in February 1989, then in 1992 when the Afghan resistance took over Kabul from the communist regime. We have seen the consequences. The second mistake is to corner the Afghans at the risk of contributing to their radicalization and to end up making alliances that have made them unhappy, like ours with Al Qaeda.

It is the role of diplomacy to avoid the worst by finding the necessary compromises acceptable to all, knowing that it will not be easy. But we are not going to start a war again!

In the meantime, as the European Union rightly says, referring in particular to humanitarian aid, “Dialogue does not imply recognition of the Taliban government.

Finally, the international community, especially the Westerners, should not be accused of having let famine kill Afghans on a massive scale. Nor should Afghanistan become a sort of cold war between two sides as it was during the Soviet occupation. No one has the right to play the sorcerer’s apprentice with so many lives in danger of being lost. In the face of human suffering, the only answer is solidarity.

Alain Boinet.

PS/ We need your help to publish “Humanitarian Challenges” every month. You can help us by making a donation on the HelloAsso website knowing that we do not benefit from tax deduction. Thank you for your generous support.


Armenian Letters from Artsakh

Their names are Nathalie, Tatev, Mariam and Anna and they write to us from Artsakh, this territory of the South Caucasus populated by Armenians and coveted by Azerbaijan. When you read their letters, you will understand how attached they are to their land, to their history, to their identity after having thought they would disappear when the war suddenly broke out on September 27, 2020 and ended 44 days later, on November 9, 2020, a little over a year ago. They are about twenty years old and they are learning French at the University of Stepanakert, the capital of Artsakh where the first foreign language taught is Russian. It is thanks to Nelly, their French teacher, that we received these letters. They tell us about their life, their fear and their hope. You can answer them by sending us a letter to and we will send them. We met Nelly on site. She was our translator when we were there last February with Bernard Kouchner and Patrice Franceschi. Since then, we are happy to have sent Nelly some French teaching books that she was missing.


Hello dear reader

My name is Nathalie, I am 19 years old. I was born on November 28, 2001 in the village of Aknaghbyur, in the region of Askeran (formerly known as Karabulakh, which means “big spring”). I am a 3rd year student of English language and literature at the Faculty of Philology of Artsakh State University. I love my job, it gives me the opportunity to explore world literature in its original form, to work with children, developing Armenian and Armenian in them. Now I have only one goal, to deepen my knowledge, to acquire the ability to communicate in different languages, to deepen my cultural and Armenological knowledge in order to make our nation visible to the world.

I also like educational activities. I have been working with children for two years now. My students inspire me in the strongest moments, give me strength and endurance. Today, my dreams and goals are linked only to my birthplace, Aknaghbyur. It was occupied by the enemy during the 44-day war in 2020 and finally came under enemy control on October 27. My pain is great, my grief is boundless. There were a number of historical and cultural monuments in Aknaghbyur, including the 19th century Surb Astvatsatsin church, the 19th-20th century cemetery, the 19th-20th century “Ghuze Tagh” cemetery, located 500 m southeast of the village, the 17th century “Ghuze Tagh” shrine, the 18th-19th century “Gharali” village, located 2 km west of the village. In the center of Aknaghbyur there was a memorial dedicated to the fallen freedom fighters of the first Artsakh war, which was destroyed by the Azerbaijanis after the village was taken over by the Azerbaijani armed forces. Every day I pray to the Almighty Lord to find our village and let the mornings of the Armenian world begin peacefully…


Translation of the letter into Armenian

Hello everyone,

My name is Tatev, I am 21 years old. I was born in the village of Kochoghot in the Martakert region of Artsakh. I am a first year master student. I study English language and literature at Artsakh State University.

My village is beautiful, there is a wonderful nature where one can rest well.

Here lives the long-suffering Armenian who tries to provide for his family by his honest work. And suddenly, at dawn, you hear the sound of explosions, the roar of weapons, the groan of the fatherland. War, we guessed, has broken out, disrupting our peaceful life. I think you know Artsakh and you know what happened recently: a cruel and unjust war that spared nobody. Each exploded weapon took lives, taking with it many dreams that did not come true. We lost 75% of our country in the 44-day war. It is true that we cannot bring back the many Armenians who sacrificed their lives for the motherland, but we can do at least one thing – pray for the enlightenment of their souls to keep their names immortal. Many families have lost their homes, but everyone, in their heart of hearts, hopes that one day they will return to their land and find their houses and homes that they built themselves.

We must not lose hope and faith in God, we must pray, believe that our voice will reach God, we must be obliged to make our wonderful country Artsakh prosper and develop.

I wish peace and unity to you and to us in any work undertaken. Join us, dear friends, do not allow injustice and evil to act against us.

I also have to tell you how much our terrorist enemy is trying to cut us off from our homes and our land. We will live on this land inherited from our ancestors, we will not lose the potential to create a beautiful culture.


Traduction de la lettre en arménien


My name is Mariam. I am 22 years old. I am a graduate of the Translation Department of Artsakh State University, I am currently in the first year of my master’s degree and I am studying English language and literature. I love walking in the nature, it calms me down and allows me to be alone with my thoughts. When I have free time, I read books and listen to music.

I was born in the village of Taghavard in the Martuni region. I live in Stepanakert, since on October 27, as a result of the war, a part of the village was taken over by the enemy.

The village of Taghavard has a beautiful nature, there are many historical and cultural monuments, including the fortress of Berdahonj (8th-14th century), the church Surb Astvatsatsin (1840), Jokht prvatsar (11th-12th century) and the shrine of Churvish (17th-18th centuries) which are quite famous. Unfortunately, the Churvish shrine was destroyed by bombing during the war.

Almost every day I see our house, our village in my dreams and this is the only way to calm the lack we all have.

However, we do not have the right to despair, because we are obliged to live and create in our Artsakh, on the land that was kept at the cost of the blood of thousands of soldiers, so that we can live the life that they did not live.

After all, there is no place more powerful and dearer than our own land and homeland.


Traduction de la lettre en arménien

Destroyed housing complex in the Republic of Artsakh due to Azerbaijan’s shelling in September and October 2020 @Yan-Boechat-VOA.
Hello dear friends,

I am Anna, I am 21 years old. I come from a small but beautiful part of the world: Artsakh. I live in Stepanakert, its capital. In my homeland you can find a wonderful nature, very hospitable people and a history that is very old but at the same time full of adventures and suffering.

I study at Artsakh State University, in the faculty of foreign languages. I am learning English and French. Outside of my studies I give individual lessons and teach English and French to children. I am married and soon I will have a son. My biggest dream is that my child will grow up under the blue sky. You already know that we suffered because of the war in 2020. On September 27, we woke up to the sound of bombing. It was a pain that is frankly impossible to explain in words. We don’t want to leave our country, but I don’t want my son to be a victim of a new war either.

My 7 year old cousin tells me that he wants to be a soldier, but he doesn’t want to participate in the war because all the soldiers who participated in the war are dead…

My day-to-day life is very full: I participate in the online university classes, I do my classes with the kids also online because of Covid19, I do the cleaning sometimes, I cook and in the evening, when I have time, I go for a walk. I have a beautiful view of the city of Shushi from my window. At night before I go to sleep I look at this city in the hope of a miracle: that of returning there one day and making its culture flourish again, which is now destroyed by the Azeris.

We, the Artsakhtsis, are very dynamic and courageous, we will never abandon our country.

We will fight for the welfare of our children, for the next generation and for our country.

Dear readers, we wish you happiness and joy; may you never feel the pain of war.


Translation of the letter into Armenian

Monument from Artsakh symbolizing “We are our mountains” @Martin Cigler.


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