UNICEF launches emergency appeal amid fears a million children in Afghanistan could die from malnutrition

19th September 2021
PRESS RELEASE

UNICEF launches emergency appeal amid fears a million children in Afghanistan could die from malnutrition

UNICEF estimates 10 million children across Afghanistan need humanitarian assistance to survive

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19 September 2021, DUBLIN: UNICEF has launched an emergency fundraising appeal for children in Afghanistan. The urgent appeal comes amid fears that 1 million children are at risk of dying from severe acute malnutrition, without access to life-saving support.

Before the recent escalation in conflict, Afghanistan was already one of the toughest places on earth to be a child. Across the country, 10 million children are in need of humanitarian assistance to survive. Over the past year, the situation has become even more desperate. Conflict, drought, and COVID-19 have collided to create an unprecedented humanitarian emergency.

UNICEF Ireland Executive Director Peter Power said UNICEF has been working to support children in Afghanistan for more than 70 years, and is more determined than ever to stay and continue its critical work across the country. “Now is not the time to abandon the children of Afghanistan. In the past few weeks, the war has entered a new, deadlier and more destructive phase. To compound this, winter is on the horizon and we know children are at most risk from harsh winter conditions. UNICEF is determined to stay and deliver for children. We have 13 offices across Afghanistan and our experienced teams are scaling up our lifesaving programmes for children and women – including through the delivery of health, nutrition and safe water to displaced families.”

UNICEF said immediate action was needed to protect the estimated 1 million children who are projected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition over the course of this year and could die. Additionally, an estimated 4.2 million children are already out of school, including 2.6 million girls. Internal displacement has sharply risen with more than 550,000 people currently displaced due to conflict; the majority of that displacement has happened in recent weeks.

In the face of conflict, drought and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, UNICEF anticipates that the humanitarian needs of children and women will only increase over the coming months, and is calling on the Irish public to support their work at this vital time. “We are always incredibly inspired by how people in Ireland respond when children and families experience a crisis like this. I think everyone has been moved by the scenes we have recently witnessed from Afghanistan. Children are the least responsible for the crisis in Afghanistan, but they are currently paying the heaviest price,” said Power. “For UNICEF, our absolute priority is to make sure we are there for those children. I know our teams on the ground are incredibly thankful for every contribution, and we hope people in Ireland will continue to support our life-saving work at this critical time”.

More information on UNICEF’s emergency Afghanistan appeal can be found at www.unicef.ie

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UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit www.unicef.ie

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For more information, please contact:

Danny Smits, UNICEF Ireland, + 353 871308070, danny@unicef.ie