Delivering for the children of Afghanistan
UNICEF continues to work with partners to support children and their families across the country.
A year since the Taliban seized power and UNICEF pledged to ‘stay and deliver,’ life in Afghanistan – already weakened by decades of insecurity and natural disasters, and now distanced from the global community – has further deteriorated. The country is in crisis, and it’s a child rights crisis.??
Millions of children continue to need essential services, including primary healthcare, lifesaving vaccines against polio and measles, nutrition, education,?protection, shelter, water and sanitation. UNICEF has been on the ground in Afghanistan for over 70 years with 13 offices nationwide and a range of partners that support us in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable, especially children. But as winter approaches, urgent funding is needed to secure children’s futures, to guarantee their rights, and to ensure that vital support is given equitably to all of Afghanistan’s children.
Donate to support UNICEF’s work for Afghanistan’s children
What’s happening in Afghanistan??
More than half the country – 24 million people, including 13 million children – are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.?Crushing poverty is driving parents to pull children out of school and into dangerous forms of work. Mistaking explosive remnants of war for playthings, hundreds of children have been killed and maimed this year. Depleted by chronic hunger, malnutrition and disease stalk infants and children. Natural disasters – from drought to earthquakes – have pushed the most disadvantaged further into deprivation.
Meanwhile, in an alarming roll-back of their rights, more than 1 million girls from grade 7-12 have been barred from high school since last August. Prolonged school closures and absences often result in children, particularly girls, not returning to complete their education – with lasting impacts on children.
How is UNICEF responding?
This is a pivotal juncture for a generation of children in Afghanistan. Their rights are increasingly under attack, while their childhoods are marred by deprivation.?UNICEF is on the ground expanding into areas that were, for two decades, previously inaccessible due to conflict and remoteness, to reach more children and mothers.?
Although the potential costs of not educating boys and girls alike are high in terms of lost earnings, not educating girls is especially costly because of the relationship between educational attainment and girls delaying marriage and childbearing, participating in the workforce, making choices about their own future and investing more in the health and education of their own children later in life.
We want to see every girl and boy across Afghanistan in school and learning. UNICEF will continue to advocate to get all children back in school – for as long as it takes – because demand for education nationwide is at an all-time high, particularly in areas where there are no schools and children have been deprived of education for years.?
UNICEF is responding to the commitment from communities to keep schools open for high school age girls by providing, amongst other things, textbooks in schools, training for female teachers, and expanding Community-Based Education classes. UNICEF is also exploring alternative pathways to education, including financial support to small-scale education initiatives, and lessons on tablets and via radio or TV.?
UNICEF is supporting water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) services, including delivering safe water through water trucking, construction and repair of hand pumps, as well as providing supplies and hygiene promotion.
UNICEF is supporting primary healthcare facilities providing basic health services, including out-patient consultations. In addition, over 170 UNICEF-supported mobile health and nutrition teams are operating across the country, including in the most remote and hard-to-reach mountains that were previously inaccessible. Following the 22 June 2022 earthquake, UNICEF delivered tents and medical supplies to earthquake-affected areas including first aid kits, oral and injectable antibiotics and IV fluids.
Too many of Afghanistan’s children have witnessed scenes that no child should ever see. Children and adolescents are struggling with anxieties and fears, with many in desperate need of mental health support. UNICEF has, therefore, scaled up its child protection response by providing immediate and life-saving services to children affected by conflict and displacement, including providing child-friendly spaces and psychosocial support to children and their caregivers or parents.
More than 3 million children are at risk of acute malnutrition, making them vulnerable to preventable disease. Of them, over 1 million children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition?– the most lethal form of undernutrition.?UNICEF and partners are working to identify and treat severely wasted children, including through nutrition counselling and treatment services. UNICEF also supports multiple micronutrient supplements and multiple micronutrient powders programmes.
Results for Afghanistan’s children in 2022:
In 2022, Afghanistan has experienced worsening disease outbreaks, economic decline, acute food insecurity, and devastating natural disasters. During the first half of the year, UNICEF scaled up its humanitarian response in the face of increasing needs. In the first six months of 2022, UNICEF and partners:
- Treated more than 300,000 children age 6 to 59 months for severe acute malnutrition.
- Provided humanitarian cash transfers to around?100,000 unique households.
- Reached more than 3.5 million people with safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene.
- Provided 17.3 million people with out-patient health care.
- Reached 1.7 million children and their caregivers?with a range of urgent child protection services including mental health and psychosocial support services.
How you can help
$2 billion is urgently needed to meet the humanitarian needs of 15 million people, including 8 million children, in Afghanistan.