UNICEF issues historic humanitarian appeal to save the lives of millions of children in Afghanistan

7th December 2021


UNICEF issues historic humanitarian appeal to save the lives of millions of children in Afghanistan

UNICEF spokespeople in Afghanistan are available for interview

Download photos and broll from Afghanistan here

KABUL/KATHMANDU/NEW YORK/DUBLIN, 7 December 2021 – UNICEF launched its largest ever single-country appeal today to urgently respond to the humanitarian needs of over 24 million people in Afghanistan, half of whom are children. UNICEF’s appeal for US$2 billion will help to avert the imminent collapse of health, nutrition, WASH, education and other vital social services for children and families.

As the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate in Afghanistan, there are alarming disruptions in health and nutrition services, a disastrous food crisis, drought, outbreaks of measles, acute watery diarrhea, polio and other preventable diseases, as well as the crippling onset of winter.

”The current humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is dire, especially for children. Winter has already set in and, without additional funding, UNICEF and partners will be unable to reach the children and families that need us the most,” said Alice Akunga, UNICEF Afghanistan Representative a.i. “As families struggle to put nutritious food on the table and health systems are further strained, millions of Afghan children are at risk of starvation and death. Others struggle to access water and sanitation, are cut off from their schools and at heightened risk of violence.  As the desperation of families and children increases, UNICEF is doing everything possible to save and protect children.”

UNICEF estimates that 1 in 2 children under five will be acutely malnourished in 2022 due to the food crisis and poor access to water, sanitation and hygiene services. Outbreaks of life-threatening diseases continue, with over 60,000 cases of measles reported in 2021. An estimated 8 of 10 Afghans drink bacteriologically contaminated water. In addition, 10 million children are at risk of dropping out of school if teacher salaries are not paid and crippling poverty levels continue. Almost 4.5 million children are in need of mental health and psychosocial support.  With harsh winter conditions, where temperatures can reach as low as -12 degrees Celsius, families are struggling to heat their homes and keep their children warm.

Guided by humanitarian principles, UNICEF will prioritize life-saving interventions to treat children and provide other vital services. UNICEF’s response will help ensure continuity of essential services by preventing the collapse of systems that are critical for children, while also safeguarding hard-won gains, including protecting the rights of women and girls.

UNICEF plans to use the funds to scale up services to:

“UNICEF is strongly urging donors to support Afghanistan’s children through its humanitarian appeal,” added Akunga. “We need to call to mind our common humanity and do everything it takes to keep children alive, well-fed, safe and learning. It won’t be easy but with the lives and wellbeing of so many children at stake, we must rise to the challenge. We appeal to the international community to stand with us, shoulder to shoulder, so that the children of Afghanistan can have the life and future that is their right.”

Thanks to the immediate support of donors to UNICEF’s 2021 appeal, UNICEF was able to provide life-saving services, including ready-to-use therapeutic food to nourish starving children; water trucking to the most in need communities; education supplies to children, including girls; and mobile health clinics to bring urgent medical care directly to vulnerable families and children in hard-to-reach areas are providing respite to those most in need.

To support UNICEF’s global appeal for children in Afghanistan, UNICEF Ireland has launched an urgent fundraising appeal. More information on the appeal can be found at www.unicef.ie



Notes to Editors

New multimedia materials available:


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

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