Providing Food Packets to Afghan Families in Pakistan during the Pandemic


Providing Food Packets to Afghan Families in Pakistan during the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone living in Pakistan, but no community more so than Afghan refugees. Pakistan hosts more Afghan refugees than any other country in the world, taking in almost 55% of all refugees from Afghanistan.

To support these communities, Relief International has provided over 7000 Afghan households with food packets consisting of flour, rice, pulses, spices, cooking oil, sugar, salt & curry packets.

Relief International’s food packets help feed families. They also allow them to save money for other purposes.

Afghan refugees have been hit very hard by the effects of the pandemic. To combat the spread of COVID-19, the Pakistani Government introduced strict lockdowns in 2020, easing restrictions for vaccinated people to move more freely in 2021. Unfortunately, only 39% of Pakistan’s population is vaccinated, leaving a large section of the population, and the majority of Afghan refugees, limited in their ability to travel, attend gatherings, and, most importantly, find work.

This limitation, coupled with an inflation rate that has moved between 8-10% in 2020 and 2021, has left many Afghan refugees unemployed and unable to pay for the essential goods they desperately need. The hardest hit households are often the most vulnerable – households without fixed income, or those headed by women, children, or people with disabilities.

Bashar, Shakeela and Sida Jan are just some of the people who received RI food packets. Below they explain the huge impact these packets have had on them and their families.

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“Because of the COVID-19 lockdown, shop sales were down… We were so hopeless,” says Shakeela, a 23 years old housewife who runs a shop with her husband that supports eight family members. “The food packet provided by Relief International is not just relief assistance…. we can now think more about restarting the shop by following COVID precautions and prevention methods so that people feel safe when they visit,” she says. “I will spend more days without any economic stress.”
“My vegetable business is not running because of the lockdown and sometimes we don’t have enough to buy clothes and food,” says Bashar a 30-year-old Afghan refugee, who is the only provider in his family. A father of six, Bashar lives in a suburban part of Peshawar, a city in the west of Pakistan. As inflation continues to fluctuate, he finds it very hard to feed his family and live in the dignified manner. The RI food packets allow him to provide food for his family, while also helping him save the money he has for other things. “The money that I saved … can be used to restart my business now because the food assistance provided to us by Relief International saved the food expense. I can buy clothes for my daughters and wife to provide them a respectable life,” says Bashar.
Sida Jan a 50-year-old Afghan Refugee runs a snacks shop in Tehkal Bala, a small area in Peshawar. He has 7 family members that depend on his earnings. “It is difficult to feed my children besides paying for the electricity bill, gas bill, and the rented house. I have a small business cooking and selling fritters. Because of COVID-19, food businesses [like mine] were affected more. “In this tough time where there is a price hike, Relief International supported us at a critical juncture. The food assistance is of great help for my entire family. Because of the inflation my business also suffered and it’s very hard to manage our life routine in an organized manner.”




Relief International in Pakistan

Pakistan hosts more than 1.4 million Afghans who have been forced to flee their homes. Relief International is working to improve outcomes for these people by providing health, nutrition and educational programming in the communities they live in.