Humanitarian Action for Children 2012

SOUTH ASIA Afghanistan

© UNICEF/NYHQ2010-0792/Holt

Children walk on a street patrolled by military forces in Garmsir Bazaar, in Helmand Province. A decades-long conflict continues to undermine children’s development; 525,000 children under 5 are at risk for severe acute malnutrition.

Update: CAP Mid-Year Review


Children and Women in Crisis

Violence in Afghanistan continues to inflict severe suffering and is undermining efforts to provide a protective and secure environment for children. A total of 147,661 people were displaced between January and August 2011, bringing the cumulative number of the conflict-related displaced population to 473,000 (73,452 families).1 Recruitment and use of children in armed conflict emerged as an increasing concern. Children represented at least 81 per cent of mine/explosive remnants of war casualties in the country.

Up to 3 million Afghans are severely affected by an unprecedented drought, the eighth in 11 years. There is a significant shortage of safe drinking water, deteriorating sanitation, and an increase in waterborne or water-shortage disease outbreaks. Some 525,000 children under 5 are at risk of severe acute malnutrition, and trends registered in the second half of 2011 show that roughly 60,000 children nationwide will need nutrition therapeutic care in 2012.2 Measles outbreaks are common, with 107 small-scale outbreaks reported and 1,606 measles cases captured by active surveillance systems from 107 districts as of August 2011.3 Afghanistan is one of four polio-endemic countries in the world. The harsh winter conditions, which are often accompanied by flooding, disrupt education for children, particularly in schools that are not adequately designed for the conditions.

Meeting Urgent Needs in 2012

UNICEF is lead of the nutrition and WASH clusters and the child protection sub-cluster in Afghanistan, as well as co-lead for education. Together with the Government of Afghanistan, other UN agencies and NGOs, UNICEF will seek to meet the basic humanitarian needs of an estimated 2.4 million vulnerable people. Efforts will include:

Humanitarian Funding at Work: Highlights from 2011

As of end October 2011, UNICEF had received US$5,642,548 of the US$22,698,000 requested for its humanitarian work. With only one fourth of the funding needs received, UNICEF was able to achieve results in the following areas: Some 149,000 children under 5 and 28,406 pregnant or breastfeeding women received life-saving basic maternal and child health and nutrition services. An additional 245,000 children 6–59 months old and 246,000 pregnant or breastfeeding women received multiple micronutrients and folic acid. More than 12,000 children 9–59 months old (99 per cent of the programmatic goal) were immunized against measles.

A total of 20,000 family kits were distributed to internally displaced families. Additionally, 10,000 sweaters for children under 2 were distributed and some 14,000 blankets were pre-positioned for thermal protection.

At least 200,000 displaced and drought-affected people gained access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities. Nearly 4,000 community-based classes were established, providing education to 125,000 children. Some 400 schools, which had been closed due to insecurity, were reopened with a community-based protection initiative. A total of 1,050 cases of violations dealing with children in conflict with the law, family separation, sexual abuse and child trafficking were identified, followed up with and referred to support services.

Funding Requirements for 2012

In line with the Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) requirements, UNICEF is requesting US$31,661,000 for its emergency activities in Afghanistan. Underfunding will leave millions of Afghans without safe drinking water and life-saving health and nutrition services, as well as deny thousands of children the opportunity to attend school and access to protection services. Full funding will ensure that UNICEF and partners can strengthen emergency preparedness and response at national and community levels.

More information on humanitarian action planned for 2012 can be found at and the country office website at

1 United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ‘Monthly Humanitarian Update’, OCHA Afghanistan,  Kabul, August 2011, p. 1.
2 United States Agency for International Development and iMMAP, 'Afghanistan: Emergency Food Security Assessment', USAID and iMMAP, Washington, D.C., 27 July 2011.
3 Measles/Rubella Case Finding Indicators in Afghanistan between 1 January 2011–20 August 2011, 6 September 2011 and Ministry of Public Health, ‘Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report 44 (5th Yr)’, Afghanistan, 6 November 2011.