Humanitarian Action for Children
UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children appeal helps support the agency’s work as it provides conflict- and disaster-affected children with access to water, sanitation, nutrition, education, health and protection services. Return to main appeal page.
- Pakistan’s most vulnerable children are at high risk from the harms of recurrent natural and human-caused disasters, whose impacts are deepened by entrenched inequality, climate change and political and economic uncertainty. Food insecurity, high malnutrition, soaring inflation and minimal access to essential social services heighten people’s risks. Limited government resources as well as competing priorities impede prevention and constrain the response to humanitarian crises.
- Pakistan hosts approximately 3.7 million Afghans of varying legal status, and providing them access to essential services is further straining the country's already fragile systems.
- More than a year after the devastating 2022 floods, severely affected districts face persistent vulnerabilities and limited access to essential services. UNICEF remains committed to supporting the Government with post-flood recovery, addressing humanitarian needs and strengthening climate resilience and emergency preparedness at the national and provincial levels.
- UNICEF is appealing for $135.6 million to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to vulnerable Pakistani and Afghan populations in Pakistan.
Key planned targets
1.3 million children vaccinated against measles
1.4 million children and women accessing primary health care
217,891 children with severe wasting admitted for treatment
669,675 people accessing a sufficient quantity and quality of water
Funding requirements for 2024
Country needs and strategy
Pakistan is highly susceptible to climate change, making it one of the world's most disaster-prone countries. And the impacts of climate change are intensifying, leading to frequent floods and extreme weather events that are converging with other challenges to create a difficult humanitarian situation, especially for the most vulnerable people.
In 2022, catastrophic floods swept through the country, affecting 33 million people, half of whom were children. There were more than 1,100 fatalities. A year later, many of the hardest-hit districts still have limited access to essential services. The loss of infrastructure to the floods has aggravated pre-existing inequities, placing the most vulnerable children at an even greater risk of hunger and disease outbreaks. Despite extensive humanitarian response efforts to address the impacts of the flooding, ongoing support remains crucial in the most vulnerable flood-affected districts.
Pakistan also grapples with severe food insecurity and persistently high global acute malnutrition rates. Approximately 16 per cent of the population is food insecure and lacks access to essential services, including health care and nutrition, further exacerbating nutritional challenges. Limited fiscal space in the government's budget further complicates the situation, and a surge in inflation rates that peaked in May 2023 at 38 per cent had lead to reduced purchasing power for many. Most of the vulnerable populations are concentrated in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh Provinces. Food insecurity and malnutrition have long-term consequences on the health and well-being of the population. Children, in particular, are extremely vulnerable to the effects of malnutrition, which can result in stunted growth, developmental issues and a weakened immune system. Pakistan's global acute malnutrition rate stands at 17.7 per cent, which exceeds the emergency threshold. The severe wasting rate is 6 per cent. If urgent action is not taken to address this protracted nutrition emergency, the under-five mortality rate will rise.
The presence and prolonged stay of Afghan populations, which have been in Pakistan for more than four decades, adds an additional load to an already overburdened system. Pakistan currently hosts approximately 3.7 million Afghans (49 per cent children), providing them with access to essential services. Afghans are mostly concentrated in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provinces, which are also home to high levels of multidimensional poverty. The implementation of the Illegal Foreigners Repatriation Plan is expected to lead to further displacement and an outflow of Afghans, which will intensify the humanitarian challenges.
UNICEF remains committed to delivering life-saving humanitarian and sustainable interventions aligned with its country programme of cooperation with Pakistan and the Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action.
To respond to emergencies and climate-related disasters, UNICEF has pre-positioned emergency supplies and developed contingency plans, including standby partnerships for a rapid humanitarian response.
Addressing malnutrition is a priority. UNICEF will identify and admit for treatment affected children in health facilities and communities. Empowering mothers and families to recognize and refer malnourished children is crucial. Support groups for parents will be strengthened to enhance infant and young child feeding practices. Pregnant and lactating women and adolescents will receive iron and folic acid and multiple micronutrient supplements to combat nutritional deficiencies.
In strengthening health-care services, UNICEF will offer health services through mobile teams, later transitioning to health-care facilities. Measles vaccinations will be provided to children aged 6 months to 15 years and UNICEF will support delivery of antenatal care through functional health facilities and specialized mobile teams. Community health-care workers will be engaged to bolster awareness of health practices to safeguard against disease outbreaks. UNICEF will invest in disaster risk preparedness and response by adopting sustainable clean energy and the use of digital solutions.
UNICEF’s WASH programme will contribute to the nutrition and health response by providing safe and sustainable water and sanitation solutions to affected communities, among them hygiene education to promote safe and hygienic practices and solid waste management at the communal level. UNICEF will also support the provision and rehabilitation of WASH infrastructure in schools, temporary learning centres, child-friendly spaces and health-care facilities.
Continuity of learning will be supported through the establishment of temporary learning centres and transitional school shelters, the repair and rehabilitation of schools, teacher and parent-teacher/school management committee training and provision of critical education supplies.
UNICEF will strengthen province-level and community-based child protection and gender-based violence response systems. Coordinated services for children at risk and survivors of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation are a priority. Building a professional social service workforce, extending prevention and response services and promoting inclusion of vulnerable children within these systems are key objectives. UNICEF will provide essential information on child protection and gender-based violence risks, support mental health and psychosocial support activities and establish an integrated case management and referral system, including for unaccompanied and separated children.
UNICEF will lead in the development and rollout of an integrated framework for accountability to affected populations.
Humanitarian Action is at the core of UNICEF’s mandate to realize the rights of every child. This edition of Humanitarian Action for Children – UNICEF’s annual humanitarian fundraising appeal – describes the ongoing crises affecting children in Pakistan; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.