“In the middle of the flood, I was shouting for someone to rescue me.”
Recent flooding in central Afghanistan has left thousands of children and families vulnerable.
LOGAR PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN – Hundreds of villages sprawled between mountains. Green and rainy springs, hot summers, and harsh winters. Thousands of families growing apples and herding livestock.
But when a powerful flash flood swept through the province on 15 August, much of this was washed away. In Logar Province alone, nearly 3,000 families – 20,000 people – had been impacted by the floods. Two children are confirmed to have died.
I met with several families in Logar who had lost their homes and possessions, and as a result were struggling to provide for their basic needs.
Zabiullah lives in Logar but works in Kabul as a daily laborer, earning around 300 Afghani per day, just over $3.00. He goes home to Logar once a week; he returned home one week after the flood to find his home destroyed. He now lives in a tent with his pregnant wife, two-year-old son, and three other children.
“My wife called me one day and begged me to come home as soon as possible,” he recalls. “She told me the flood had destroyed everything and she could not find all of our children.”
Zabiullah rushed home, finding nothing in his village recognizable.
Zabiullah’s children were stranded amidst the receding floodwaters. His neighbours struggled to rescue them, and one of his children was missing. They could not find him until later that evening.
“I do not care about my possessions anymore. I am only thankful that I have my children and my wife with me safely.”
Mustafa, 8, usually attends UNICEF-supported community education classes in his village, but those were also destroyed by the floodwaters. He got lost in the flood when it forced its way through his neighbourhood.
“I was yelling, ‘Mom, help me! Take me out of this flood!’ But no one heard me.”
Mustafa remembers looking around desperately but finding everyone busy with their own devastation. He could not find his mother or youngest brother, and his other siblings were trying to rescue themselves.
After four hours, Mustafa was found far from his village by other members of his community.
“I want my home back, and I want to go back to school and play with my friends.”
UNICEF heard Mustafa’s cries and recognizes the fear of thousands of other affected children. A few days after the flood, UNICEF met with families displaced in Logar Province and brought supplies for those who had lost everything.
To help protect children and their parents from diseases, UNICEF distributed 1,000 family hygiene kits with essential items like soap, laundry detergent, toothbrushes, towels and buckets.
Four mobile health and nutrition teams were deployed to Logar to provide emergency medical care and first aid. Psychosocial counsellors and social workers came to meet with children and provide mental health support.
UNICEF also trucked in clean water, safe for drinking, bathing, and washing dishes and clothes, storing the water in 15 tanks in the camp for people displaced by the flood. To help children like Mustafa continue learning, UNICEF will establish new community-based classes in the area, and child-friendly spaces where they can play, learn and meet with friends and counsellors.
With support from the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), UNICEF is responding to disasters like the floods in central Afghanistan. There are over 24 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan – including 12.9 million children like Mustafa.
But UNICEF has been in Afghanistan for over 70 years, and we are still here. We are not leaving, and we will never give up on the people of Afghanistan.