The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

Afghanistan humanitarian hotline celebrates first anniversary

Afghanistan’s first countrywide humanitarian call centre – Awaaz Afghanistan – celebrated its first full year in operation in a ceremony held in Kabul.

Awaaz ensures that vulnerable people of Afghanistan – including returnees and those affected by conflict and natural disasters – can voice their concerns and receive critical information and support in times of need. 

A joint initiative between multiple UN agencies and partners, Awaaz is implemented by UNOPS with financial support from the Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund (AHF), the European Commission Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

The call centre has already handled over 62,000 calls from all over the country since its launch in May 2018 – around 20 per cent of these calls have come from female callers.

“We are proud of the service Awaaz has provided to the people of Afghanistan in need of support over the past year. The sheer volume of calls is testimony to the strong need for assistance in Afghanistan and our commitment to accountability,” said United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator Toby Lanzer. 

Sustained escalation of conflict across Afghanistan has left an estimated 6.3 million people in need of life-saving assistance. Awaaz responds to this humanitarian need by offering a single point of contact to provide information about assistance available throughout the country, and to register feedback and complaints about the support provided. 

“By responding in a timely manner, Awaaz helps ensure that humanitarian response swiftly matches actual needs,” Mr. Lanzer added.  

The name of the centre derives from the Dari and Pashto word for ‘voice’ – ‘awaaz.’ By dialing the toll-free number 410, any person in Afghanistan with access to a phone can speak with one of Awaaz Afghanistan’s eight multilingual operators – four of whom are women. 

UNOPS Director in Afghanistan, Paul Cruickshank said: “Over the past year, Awaaz has lived true to its name and improved two-way communication between people in need of assistance and those who provide such support.” 

“In the past year, Awaaz has not only helped vulnerable people connect to the information and support they need, even in hard to reach areas, but it has also helped WFP and the other agencies and partners to adapt our programmes and better tailor the assistance we provide,” added Country Director for WFP Afghanistan, Zlatan Milisic.

The service has been welcomed by its users.

“Awaaz raised my issue with the responsible humanitarian organization and continuously provided me with feedback. I now trust Awaaz and I am grateful for their help,” said an internally displaced man who called from Badghis province.

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