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It's recess at a school in Kabul.

Even though the war has subsided, the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is far from over. Millions of Afghans, at least half of them children, remain at high risk. Hundreds of thousands have been forced from their homes by conflict and drought into temporary camps where life is difficult. And throughout the more remote regions of the country, it is still difficult to deliver relief supplies such as food and medicine on a reliable basis.

Since September 2001, UNICEF has worked in partnership with the Afghan Transitional Authority (previously the Afghan Interim Administration), the humanitarian community and the people of Afghanistan to make substantial progress in a number of areas.

UNICEF believes that placing children, youth and women at the centre of the recovery process is the best investment for Afghanistan’s future. UNICEF also believes that focusing Afghans on the welfare of their children can provide a national cause around which to rally.

For these reasons, UNICEF’s immediate priorities have been to:

  • Continue life-saving humanitarian aid, especially health supplies, safe water and clothing
  • Provide ongoing support for the official return to school of at least 1.78 million children
  • Support catch-up learning for girls and boys in home-based settings now
  • Reduce child malnutrition through special supplementary feeding campaigns
  • Help carry out nation-wide immunization campaigns to protect children

In the longer term, UNICEF is also working on improving the capacity of the interim and transitional administrations and other national partners to:

  • Ensure the survival of children and women, especially the most vulnerable;
  • Enhance the overall health care network, especially services for pregnant women and children;
  • Help create programmes to address years of childhood trauma associated with war;
  • Contribute to national landmine awareness and other public safety campaigns;
  • Work closely with Afghan authorities to ensure a legal code that protects children and women from exploitation;
  • Build the capacity of the interim and transitional administrations and other national partners to ensure effective management and equitable resourcing of services to women and children.

Only 72 per cent of UNICEF's $191 million funding requirements have been met and the shortfall will affect all areas of work. The priority needs are:

  • $10 million to purchase and deliver school supplies in time for the March 2003 school year
  • $3 million for the Safe Motherhood Initiative
  • $5 million for the Expanded Programme on Immunization
  • $1 million for nutrition programmes
  • $2 million for school sanitation and hygiene
  • $500,000 to reintegrate and protect child soldiers and war-affected youth

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