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Save the Children: Over 6 Million Afghan Children Face Emergency Levels of Hunger

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – International humanitarian agency Save the Children reports that around 6.5 million children in Afghanistan, or six out of every ten, will face a hunger crisis or emergency levels of hunger this year.

In its recent report, Save the Children highlighted that an estimated 2.9 million children under the age of five are projected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2024.

According to the report, the crisis level situation in Afghanistan is also attributed to the immediate impacts of recent natural disasters, including floods and drought, as well as the return of Afghan refugees from neighboring Pakistan and Iran.

Save the Children notes that the current figure shows a slight improvement from its last report in October 2023, but emphasizes the continuing need for assistance, as poverty affects one in two Afghans.

“The slight improvement in the numbers of children expected to experience acute hunger is linked to widespread humanitarian assistance and a projected improved harvest, among other factors – but food aid will decline this year due to funding cuts.”  

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, including earthquakes, devastating flooding, and landslides, has exacerbated the humanitarian situation.

The recent heavy rainfall followed by widespread floods in northern and northeastern provinces of Afghanistan since early May has resulted in significant casualties and damage to the local population.

A recent UNICEF report indicates that the flooding in Afghanistan has claimed nearly 450 lives and injured 1,700 people. Approximately 80,000 individuals have been affected by the disaster, with over 10,000 homes destroyed or damaged, resulting in the displacement of thousands of families.

Country Director for Save the Children in Afghanistan, Arshad Malik, was quoted in the report, saying, “Save the Children has treated more than 7,000 children for severe or acute malnutrition so far this year. Those numbers are a sign of the massive need for continuing support for families as they experience shock after shock.”

“Children are feeling the devastating impacts of 3 years of drought, high levels of unemployment and the return of more than 1.4 million Afghans from Pakistan and Iran. We need long term, community-based solutions to help families rebuild their lives,” he added.

Save the Children emphasizes the improvement in the number of people projected to experience acute levels of hunger this year as encouraging. However, without increased support from the international community, there is a danger that this positive trend could be reversed.

The International humanitarian organization cautioned that only 16% of the funding for this year’s humanitarian response plan has been met, despite nearly half of the population requiring assistance. It stressed that “this is not the time for the world to look away.”