South Asia is prone to yearly flooding, landslides, droughts and earthquakes. The effects of climate change can be felt in the erratic nature and severity of these natural disasters. Conflict and political challenges often mean that emergency and humanitarian response is delayed – exposing children to high-risk situations. Children’s needs are often overlooked during emergencies, leaving them vulnerable to health issues. During a humanitarian crisis, they are often deprived of safe environments to learn and grow.
Of the 1.5 million people displaced due to the forced repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan, Iran, and Europe, 60 per cent are children under 18. UNICEF is providing support for the safe reunification of unaccompanied minors, but clashes between government forces and armed groups continue to impact the provision of basic services like safe drinking water and access to improved sanitation facilities for refugee communities.
The closure or destruction of schools and health facilities affects children stranded in conflict or post-disaster situations. In Nepal, children are still suffering from the effects of the 2015 earthquakes; their homes and schools have not been adequately reconstructed and landslide risks remain high. Droughts in Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan have led to a steady increase in malnutrition among children under the age of five. UNICEF is the sole provider of nutrition supplies and malnutrition care in Afghanistan.
Today, there are an estimated 720,000 Rohingya children in Bangladesh and Myanmar, in dire need of humanitarian assistance and protection. Urgent efforts are needed to help the Rohingya children who are threatened either by the approaching cyclone season in Bangladesh or by ongoing violence and denial of their basic rights in Myanmar.