New Zealand has upped aid to address opposing, yet equally concerning, crises in Afghanistan and Fiji. 

An additional NZ$6 million will go toward food insecurity and famine facing Afghan communities, while a further 50,000 paediatric doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 50,000 at-home COVID-19 tests will be supplied to Fiji to help the Pacific nation recover from the pandemic’s devastating impact.

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said the new Afghanistan funding — to be split between the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organisation — will bring New Zealand’s humanitarian aid for the war-torn nation to $12 million. 

"We remain deeply concerned by the severe humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan,” Mahuta said in a statement. “The levels of severe food insecurity facing Afghan communities are dire. We need to ensure that we do not lose sight of the scale and severity of humanitarian need in Afghanistan in light of new and emerging crises elsewhere around the globe.”

According to the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the group behind the high-level pledging event at which New Zealand made the new financial injection, almost 100% of all people in Afghanistan aren’t eating enough food.

More than 24 million people — or 60% of the population — now need humanitarian assistance to survive.

Days prior to the fresh Afghanistan funding, Mahuta announced a new package to support Fiji’s COVID-19 vaccine efforts. 

The additional Pfizer vaccines will be used for the Pacific nation’s paediatric vaccination campaign, providing “a layer of assurance against COVID-19” for thousands of five to 11-year-olds throughout the country. Additional rapid antigen tests, meanwhile, are expected to be essential as Fiji works to open its borders to all countries for the first time in years.

Fiji has now received over $100 million in COVID-19 aid from New Zealand. 

Over 70% of all Fijians have had two COVID-19 vaccines. 

At the same time, a little over 13% have received a booster shot.

The country became the first nation in the Pacific to acquire COVID-19 vaccines back in March last year. The shots were delivered through the COVAX Facility, a partnership between the World Health Organisation, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to ensure equitable COVID-19 vaccine distribution around the world. 

Last December, New Zealand pledged a further $9 million to the partnership, bringing its total contribution to $26 million.


Demand Equity

New Zealand Pledges Millions More to Hunger in Afghanistan and Vaccines in the Pacific

By Madeleine Keck