Delivering for Afghanistan’s children
UNICEF is continuing to work with partners to support children and their families across the country.
Increased conflict and insecurity in Afghanistan have left children paying a heavy price. Afghanistan was already one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a child. Now, with a security crisis, skyrocketing food prices, a severe drought, the spread of COVID-19, and another harsh winter just around the corner, children are at greater risk than ever.
UNICEF has been on the ground in Afghanistan for 65 years with offices nationwide and a range of partners that support us in delivering life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable, especially children. UNICEF is supporting mobile health and nutrition teams in camps for internally displaced persons, setting up nutrition hubs and vaccination sites, pre-positioning additional life-saving supplies, and supporting students in community-based education classes.
Children should not pay for conflict with their childhoods. Afghanistan’s children need peace.
What’s happening in Afghanistan?
Against a backdrop of conflict and insecurity, children are living in communities that are running out of water because of drought. They’re missing out on life-saving vaccines. Many are so malnourished they lie in hospital beds, too weak to grasp an outstretched finger.
Around 10 million children need humanitarian assistance to survive. If current trends continue, UNICEF predicts that one million children under 5 in Afghanistan will suffer from severe acute malnutrition. Around 300,000 children have been forced out of their homes.
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How is UNICEF responding?
UNICEF is committed to continuing its work for children and families across Afghanistan. To reach the hardest-to-reach children, UNICEF is advocating with all parties to ensure safe and unhindered humanitarian access, in line with the Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action.
UNICEF is supporting emergency water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) services, including the provision of safe water through water trucking, construction and repair of handpumps, along with the provision of supplies and hygiene promotion.
Primary health care and nutrition services are continuing in health facilities as well as through mobile health teams. To respond to the rise of COVID-19 cases in rural areas, UNICEF has supplied personal protective equipment, including masks, to health facilities and district hospitals.
Too many of Afghanistan’s children have witnessed scenes that no child should ever see. Children and adolescents are struggling with anxieties and fears, with many in desperate need of mental health support. UNICEF has therefore scaled up its child protection response by providing immediate and life-saving services to children affected by conflict and displacement, including providing child-friendly spaces and psychosocial support to children and their caregivers or parents.
What is UNICEF calling for?
Over the past year, the situation for Afghanistan’s children has become even more desperate. Conflict, drought, and COVID-19 have collided to create an unprecedented humanitarian emergency. UNICEF is calling for these five important steps:
Ensure humanitarian assistance can reach children and their communities in need. To ensure an entire generation of children in Afghanistan is not lost, it is vital we remain equipped to do this work. UNICEF is present throughout Afghanistan and must be able to reach children in need through continued donor funding and with assurances of complete safety for its staff and the children we serve.
Ensure all children, especially girls, have access to a quality education. In recent years, significant strides have been made on increasing girls’ access to education. It is vital that gains in education are preserved, and all girls and children in Afghanistan receive a quality education.
Preserve the rights of women, girls. UNICEF will continue to advocate for the full realization of women and girl’s rights and for their physical, mental health and psychosocial well-being. Important gains made on gender equality must be preserved. And more must be done to guarantee that women and girls can meaningfully participate in Afghan society
End grave violations against children. UNICEF is deeply concerned about a rise in grave violations and the multitude of protection risks facing children. Children are facing grave rights violations including attacks on education. Grave violations against children must cease. Child rights must be protected, and children must not pay for this conflict with their childhood.
In line with the UN Secretary General’s message, all countries should be willing to receive Afghan refugees; refrain from deportations; and ensure children and families forced to flee have access to essential services. Civilians must be allowed to seek safety and protection, including seeking asylum. Now is the time for solidarity and support.
How you can help
UNICEF recently launched an appeal for US$192 million and is urging donors to step up their support to the vulnerable families and children who are struggling amidst an escalating humanitarian crisis.