The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has changed dramatically since the Taliban take-over in August 2021. Humanitarian needs began to rise dramatically in the wake of the suspension of development assistance and imposition of extensive blockages on financial transfers, the collapse of the economic and state systems and the flight of thousands of Afghan professionals. The 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan requested $4.4 billion to reach 22 million people with life-saving assistance – the largest appeal ever launched. At the time, a staggering 22.8 million people, or 55 per cent of the population, were expected to be in crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity (IPC 3 and above) with more than half of all children under 5 years of age expected to be acutely malnourished in 2022, a 21 per cent increase since the start of 2021.

In response to the scale and severity of humanitarian need in Afghanistan, the IASC Principals designated a humanitarian system-wide Scale-Up for Afghanistan on 11 September 2021. As mandated by the Scale-up and at the invitation of the Humanitarian Coordinator, an Operational Peer Review (OPR) mission to Afghanistan took place from 8 May to 19 May to provide the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) an opportunity to reflect on the direction and performance of the response and identify support areas for the HCT. The outcomes of an HCT retreat held on 3 April 2022 as well as a February 2022 mission by Emergency Directors were used to further refine the scope of the OPR.

The mission team held nine 3-hour workshops where participants identified the main constraints and challenges to their work and reflected on possible solutions to overcome these constraints and challenges. The Team also met with affected communities in Jalalabad and Mazar-i-Sharif, and conducted bilateral meetings with Representatives, Emergency Coordinators and Heads of Mission of key humanitarian UN agencies, components of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, international and national NGOs, and donor representatives. On the final day of the mission, the team organized an HCT retreat to review the initial findings of the mission and agree on concrete actions that would strengthen the response. The retreat provided the basis for an HCT Action Plan on the way forward, with a series of actions including on consolidating and streamlining coordination and funding arrangements; better engaging with national NGOs; developing a strategy on Accountability to Affected People; working towards increasing female participation in the response; enhancing information-sharing on access; and engaging more effectively with the de facto authorities.

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