Afghanistan: One Million Children at Risk

One Million Children on the Edge

One million children in Afghanistan are at immediate risk of dying. Without access to life-saving treatment, these children will die from severe acute malnutrition.

With the economy collapsed, a prolonged drought and a terrible food crisis, children are facing a disaster right now.

UNICEF teams are reporting that half the country, around 23 million people, don’t know where their next meal will come from. As ever children are suffering the most.  An estimated 3.2 million children under the age of five are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition by year’s end.

1 million of these children are at risk of dying due to severe acute malnutrition without immediate treatment.

“Afghanistan is standing on a precipice, and the international community cannot abandon its children. At least 10 million children across the country are in need of humanitarian assistance to survive. Now, with winter approaching – the temperatures can go as low as  -25C. We urgently need support to prevent a crisis from becoming a catastrophe. It is not too late for the international community to make a difference. We have an opportunity to avert a humanitarian disaster and we must grab it with both hands,” said UNICEF Afghanistan Representative, Alice Akunga.

The Worsening Situation for Families and Girls

As of mid-September, 95 percent of Afghans are simply not getting enough food.  Three quarters of households are limiting portion sizes or borrowing food. Adults are eating less so children can eat.

This lack of food is putting children in terrible danger. With food so low and so expensive, families are falling deep into poverty just to eat. This puts children at greater risk of being forced into child labour, child marriage or other harmful practices.

UNICEF has even heard of families resorting to exchanging their daughters for dowries, just to allow the rest of the family to eat.

Winter – a Looming Disaster

Now winter is here, and the situation is going to become so much worse. Between December and February, temperatures in Afghanistan can reach as low as -25 degrees. A total of 12.1 million people are estimated to be in need of assistance this coming winter. Many of these are children, the same children struggling to find anything to eat. This could be a true catastrophe unless these children are reached now.

“Afghanistan is a country in crisis, and those least responsible – the country’s children – are paying the heaviest price. The situation of children in Afghanistan was dire even before the Taliban take-over. But now in the face of conflict, drought, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the freezing of donor aid, we fear that the humanitarian needs of children and women will only increase over the coming months,” said Acting Representative Akunga.

What UNICEF is Doing

UNICEF has been working in Afghanistan for 70 years. Our 13 offices across the country, are responding to the emergency.

Right now, teams are working to provide more food, water and medicine to children, but the situation is critical.

In October alone, UNICEF helped treat 30,000 children under-5 for severe acute malnutrition. A total of 150,000 women were provided with nutrition counselling services on maternal and infant and young child feeding. But the needs for children are so high, and there is such little time. The situation is terribly urgent. 1 million children could die if we don’t reach them in the coming weeks.

What You Can Do

Please donate today and help the children in Afghanistan. Your help has never been more urgent or needed.

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