Save the Children said on Thursday it was hoping to restart some life-saving health and nutrition services in Afghanistan before the winter months set in amid growing concerns about a devastating humanitarian crisis unfolding across the country.
The recent escalation in violence in Afghanistan forced Save the Children to suspend its programmes in the country in mid-August but the organisation said it was now confident that some of its staff would be able to return to work soon.
“It’s vital to restart some programmes to help avoid a disaster from unfolding down the line,” said Hassan Noor, Asia Regional Director for Save the Children. ”Children are going hungry, they are out of school, winter is coming – urgent action is needed.”
Even before the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan was crippled by hunger and poverty with the second-highest number of people facing hunger in the world, as COVID-19, conflict and drought combined to create a food crisis of a scale not previously seen.
Afghanistan officially fell into drought in June – the second severe drought in four years – driving an estimated 14 million people, or over one-third of the population, into hunger. This included about two million children dependent on nutrition services, with half of all children aged under five expected to suffer from acute malnutrition this year.
With the humanitarian response for Afghanistan grossly underfunded and the needs rising sharply, Save the Children launched an appeal today to fund life-saving programmes in Afghanistan. In a petition, also launched today, the organisation called on world leaders to ensure Afghan children get the aid they need and to create safe and legal routes for those wanting to reach safety and build a new life.
The organisation said without urgent help, tens of thousands of children could lose their lives to malnutrition and disease in a country heading into winter, when temperatures can drop as low as -16°C (3°F), with freezing nights and frequent snowfall.
Hassan Noor, Asia Regional Director for Save the Children, said:
“Even before this crisis, humanitarian aid to Afghanistan was critically low, and millions of people were in desperate need of life-saving help. But now the situation is getting far, far worse. Since the violence escalated, even more children are going hungry and living outside in the open without shelter, food or medical care. Families who try to flee to safety are facing unimaginable horrors. Children are traumatised.
*“Save the Children has been helping in Afghanistan for over 40 years and we’re not going to stop now. Right now, our teams are providing crucial aid to displaced families where we can and we are confident that some of our brave female and male frontline workers will resume work soon. But to save more lives, we urgently need governments to take action now. *
“It’s heart-warming to see communities coming together to do what they can for refugee families who have made it to other countries. Many of them arrived exhausted and shivering, with nothing but the clothes they are wearing, and overnight, ordinary people have rallied together to collect donations and offer support. Now it’s time for the government to step up and do its bit as well. I urge everyone to sign this petition and call on governments to commit to supporting Afghan children in Afghanistan and in their country.”
Save the Children is an independent, impartial, and politically neutral organisation that has worked in Afghanistan since 1976 to deliver life-saving services to children and their families across the country but has had to temporarily suspended services. The organisation provided health, education, child protection, nutrition, and livelihoods services, reaching over 1.6 million Afghans in 2020.
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