DEC launches Afghanistan Crisis Appeal with over 8 million at risk of starvation over the harsh winter months - we must act now

Leading aid workers today sound the alarm to save lives as the humanitarian crisis intensifies in Afghanistan, and say there is a ‘small window of opportunity’ to respond before the freezing winter sets in.  

Conflict and economic collapse, coupled with the worst drought in 27 years and the Covid-19 pandemic, have brought Afghanistan to a tipping point. 

Speaking at the launch of the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Afghanistan Crisis Appeal, one aid worker currently in Kabul and two who have just returned, agreed ‘every penny counts.’  

Maryann Horne, Senior Advisor, Humanitarian Crises and Emergencies, for the British Red Cross, spent a month in Afghanistan visiting health programmes in remote locations and said she saw desperation all around. 

She said: “You can see it in the children's faces, sunken eyes, hard stomachs, children who should be running around and laughing. 

“People are living hand to mouth not knowing where the next meal will come from. What I'm experiencing is a sense of desperation in Afghanistan, where people are traditionally resilient.  

“As the humanitarian agencies present across the country, what we're doing today is sounding the alarm bell: this is no longer about making things better. This is about saving lives and being able to reach those who most need it in time before the winter sets in, before it's too late. 

“We're full of hope that with a little bit of help, we can do great things and continue to support those who are at the coalface.” 

Leading UK aid agencies today launch a joint fundraising appeal with appeal films played after the news on BBC, ITV, Sky, Channel 4 and Channel 5. 

Donations from the public will be matched pound-for-pound by the UK Government up to a total of £10 million through its UK Aid Match scheme. This support will double the impact of the public’s own donations and will ensure that charities working on the ground can reach more people in need.  

The press conference was hosted by Saleh Saeed, DEC Chief Executive. He said: “My plea is please do spread the word about the Appeal. Every single penny is going to make a huge difference and will go a long way. Thanks to the UK Government, donations from the public will be doubled up to £10 million. 

“Right now, 13 of the DEC charities are on the ground in Afghanistan working tirelessly. They are managing to reach even the most remote communities providing a lifeline with emergency food or cash for food to buy food. Please enable our amazing teams to scale up their emergency work and help save lives.” 

Tufail Hussain, UK Director of Islamic Relief, spent six days in Afghanistan in late November and early December. He told the press conference he was devastated when two women in separate cases came to their offices and asked staff to take their children. 

“They turned up to our offices in Kabul and Bamiyan, literally within a few days of each other. In both scenarios, the mothers were hysterical. They were pleading with our teams to take their children just because they couldn't feed them.”  

He added that Islamic Relief is currently supporting 13,000 families through a food distribution programme, which will provide enough food for six to eight weeks.  They are also providing health support as many health centres are closed.  

He explained: “We heard stories of children that are arriving at hospitals malnourished, but they're literally being left on the doorstep to die because there is no one there to treat them.”  

He concluded: “Our teams are ready. We have our community volunteers mobilised, we have suppliers lined up. We just need the support of the generous British public to be able to reach as many as possible before the winter sets in.”  

Fiona McSheehy, Director of Humanitarian Operations for Save the Children UK, who is currently in Afghanistan, said cases of malnutrition and associated pneumonia are increasing, shops are closing and the banking system collapsing.  

Save the Children UK is trying to get heaters, blankets, cash for stoves and wood supplies to heat people’s homes.  She said: “There's a very small window of opportunity for us to support the population of Afghanistan. The situation is very bad at the moment. Winter is coming very quickly now.    

“I’ve witnessed emergencies around the world, and I can honestly say this is the worst situation I have seen.    

“I'm focusing on being positive and trying to support the staff to do the very best job we can in really challenging and deteriorating circumstances. I'd be grateful for the support that anyone could give. It's not going to go away and it's only going to get worse.”  

The appeal will fund DEC charities and their local partners to provide emergency food and nutrition support for children, support healthcare facilities, provide winter kits to help displaced families stay warm, supply clean drinking water and protect women and girls. 

  • £10 could provide treatment to a child suffering from malnutrition for three weeks    
  • £20 could feed a family for a week    
  • £25 could provide blankets for five  people for the winter months    
  • £100 could provide emergency food to a family for three months    

To make a donation to the DEC Afghanistan Crisis Appeal visit  call the 24-hour hotline on 0370 60 60 610 or send a cheque. To donate £10 text SUPPORT to 70150. Texts cost £10 plus your standard network rate and the whole £10 goes to the DEC AFGHANISTAN CRISIS APPEAL. You must be 16 or over and please ask the bill payer's permission. For full terms and conditions and more information go to   

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Notes to editors  

Panelists are available for individual interviews. For more information or to request interviews please contact: on 0207 3870200 or 07930 999014 (out of hours).  

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About the DEC: When large-scale disasters hit countries without the capacity to respond, the DEC brings together 15 leading UK aid charities to raise funds quickly and efficiently. In these times of crisis, people in life-and-death situations need our help and our mission is to save, protect and rebuild lives through effective humanitarian response. The DEC’s 15 member charities are: Action Against Hunger, ActionAid UK, Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide UK, International Rescue Committee UK, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Oxfam GB, Plan International UK, Save the Children UK, Tearfund and World Vision UK.   

Thirteen of the DEC’s 15 members are responding in Afghanistan, either directly or through national affiliates or trusted local partners and will receive funds from this appeal. They are Action Against Hunger, ActionAid UK, Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide UK, International Rescue Committee UK, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Save the Children UK, Tearfund and World Vision UK.   

Through UK Aid Match the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office gives the British public the opportunity to have a say in how the UK aid budget is spent whilst boosting the impact of the very best British charities to change and save the lives of some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. UK Government match funding will double British public’s own donations to the DEC appeal up to £10 million and will ensure that DEC member charities working on the ground can reach even more people in need.  

UK Aid Match has increased the impact of a number of DEC appeals to help those in need around the world, including most recently to support people affected by the coronavirus pandemic in fragile states and refugee camps as part of the DEC’s Coronavirus Appeal in 2020.  

UK Aid Match enquiries and enquiries about UK Government support for Afghanistan should be directed to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Newsdesk. Please call 020 7008 3100 or email  

How to donate:    


Phone: 0370 60 60 610  

SMS: To donate £10 text SUPPORT to 70150. Texts cost £10 and the whole £10 goes to the DEC AFGHANISTAN CRISIS APPEAL. You must be 16 or over and please ask the bill payer's permission. For full terms and conditions and more information go to   

Or donate over the counter at any high street bank or post office or send a cheque by post to Post: DEC Afghanistan Crisis Appeal, PO Box 999, London EC3A 3AA.