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PWRDF Supports Vulnerable Households in Afghanistan

March 19, 2024

By Jacqueline Tucci

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An original version of this story first appeared in the February 2023 edition of Under the Sun

In 2021, the Taliban took over the government of Afghanistan, and a humanitarian crisis soon unfolded, resulting in a severe lack of food, medicine and essential supplies. These desperate and dire circumstances led to an increase in child marriages and people forced to take extreme actions to survive. Because the criminal code of Canada prohibits the funding of terrorist organizations, any donations made to organizations such as PWRDF could not be forwarded to partners in Afghanistan.

In response, PWRDF joined a coalition of 18 aid agencies who are also members of Cooperation Canada and began advocating the Canadian government to change the law so that urgently needed aid could be delivered.

In March 2023, the Canadian government introduced Bill C-41 which made it possible for Canadian aid organizations to provide humanitarian support in Afghanistan without the fear of criminal prosecution. This was “a critical and important step toward protecting the ability of humanitarian organizations to provide neutral and impartial aid in Afghanistan and other complex crises,” said a Cooperation Canada statement.

The #AidForAfghanistan campaign raised awareness of the impacts of regulatory barriers and their chilling effect. “Over the past eight months, we have worked with legal experts, Afghan Canadians, and women’s organizations to engage in constructive dialogue with all parties, who have all affirmed their commitment to ensuring that legislation must be amended to allow Canadian organizations to help the people of Afghanistan.”

Bill C-41 meant that funds raised for PWRDF’s partners working in Afghanistan could at last be forwarded and used. “Canada has a long history of support for Afghanistan and the Afghan people,” said Cooperation Canada. Canadians are particularly concerned for women and children, who have been increasingly vulnerable since the time of the takeover.

Through implementing partners on the ground, this emergency response aimed to provide humanitarian assistance to 9,000 vulnerable households among the internally displaced, returnees, host communities and refugees affected by the conflict in Afghanistan. An additional six-thousand affected families in Afghanistan and 3,000 refugees in Pakistan have been supported through cash assistance.

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