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Over 12 Million Children in Afghanistan Need Humanitarian Assistance

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) says that in 2024, 23.7 million people, including 12.3 million children, in Afghanistan require humanitarian assistance.

UNICEF, in its recent report on Afghanistan’s humanitarian situation released on Saturday, April 27, attributed the dire situation to the residual impact of conflict, extreme climate shocks, and the country’s severe economic downturn.

According to the UN children’s agency, in the past month, 948,975 children under the age of five were screened for malnutrition, with 39,246 of them being admitted for treatment.

UNICEF says it continued to provide basic and essential healthcare services across all 34 provinces by operating 2,406 fixed healthcare facilities at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels.

“In March 2024, 5,432,789 people received basic and essential health and nutrition services at health facilities supported by UNICEF, with half (2,714,630 individuals) being children under five years of age.”

Following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, the humanitarian situation in the country has deteriorated significantly, making it one of the world’s most critical crises. Additionally, the country’s vulnerability to intense and recurring natural hazards, such as earthquakes, flooding, and landslides, persists due to its mountainous terrain and environmental degradation.

The UN estimates that this year, over two-thirds of Afghanistan’s population requires humanitarian aid, with a significant portion being women and children. However, it emphasizes that due to insufficient funding, it will be unable to assist all those in need.

The humanitarian appeal for Afghanistan led by the U.N. this year seeks to raise $3.07 billion to assist 17.3 million people. Yet, as of March 25, only 7% of the necessary funding has been secured.

Women and children encounter even broader challenges as a result of the Taliban’s restrictions on women’s education, employment, and mobility. Currently, nearly 8 million children in Afghanistan –one in three–are experiencing crisis levels of hunger.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan has been grappling with incessant heavy rains and flooding in recent months, resulting in the deaths and injuries of dozens of people across the country. The natural disaster has also claimed the lives of thousands of livestock and caused significant financial losses for the already impoverished population.

On the other hand, the ongoing crackdown on Afghan refugees in neighboring Pakistan and Iran have added complexity to the humanitarian crisis, leaving many, particularly women and children, with little to no means of support.

Over the past year, nearly 1.5 million individuals have been forcibly repatriated from Pakistan and Iran to impoverished Afghanistan. Save the Children reports that 99% of families who have recently returned to Afghanistan and those within host communities lack sufficient food for the next one to two months.

UNICEF says its Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) appeal for 2024, which requires an overall budget of $1.4 billion, is currently 35% funded. However, the UN agency emphasizes its commitment to partnering with donors to ensure sufficient resources are mobilized to address the needs of children and communities in Afghanistan.