• 25 of the 34 provinces in Afghanistan are above the emergency threshold for acute malnutrition in 2019. More than one third of Afghans are facing severe crisis or emergency level of food insecurity in 2019 (IPC, Aug 2019).
• The National Assessment of the Prevention of Child Recruitment in Afghanistan conducted in 2019, found out that 1 in 100 families had at least one child recruited in armed forces during the last five years. Out of 10 children who joined armed forces, 1 got killed or went missing, 3 are still in armed forces and 6 returned and are in need of reintegration support.
• Direct targeted attacks on health care facilities and health care workers have increased in 2018 and 2019.
• 84 healthcare providers and 258 healthcare facilities were severely affected. As a consequence, more people especially children and women now are denied access to basic health services than ever before (WHO, 2019).
• 488 schools remain closed due to insecurity depriving around 146,400 children’s right to education.
• UNICEF and partners provided over 674,000 affected children and families with integrated lifesaving assistance such as WASH, Nutrition, Health Education, Child Protection and distribution of none-food items.
• UNICEF/WASH has constructed, as part of durable solution, two solar powered water networks to drought affected displaced people in formal IDP settlement in Herat province covering 46,000 people since May 2019.
Funding Overview and Partnerships
UNICEF had appealed for US$50 million in 2019 to sustain the provision of life-saving services for children and women in Afghanistan. During the course of the year, UNICEF received US$18 million including US$7 million of carried-over funds from 2018. The governments of the United States, Denmark, Japan, Italy, Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund (AHF), Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), UNICEF Denmark, UNICEF USA, and UNICEF Italy generously contributed to UNICEF Afghanistan’s humanitarian response. UNICEF expresses its sincere gratitude to all donors for the contributions received. However, by year-end, the 2019 Humanitarian Action for Children still had a funding gap of 51 per cent against the appeal. Significantly under-funded programmes include health and education while WASH received over 75 per cent funds. To meet the immediate response needs, UNICEF reallocated over US$ 15 million from internal core resources and other resources (OR) to provide urgent and life-saving assistances. Inadequate funds compromises UNICEF’s efforts in providing timely and effective humanitarian actions.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
Humanitarian needs in Afghanistan continued to rise in 2019 due to the ongoing conflict coupled with natural disasters and insufficient investments public systems for basic services. The conflict has a direct and indirect impact on the physical and mental status of affected populations and compromise the capacities of service providers and humanitarian interventions. During 2019, over 440,000 individuals fled their homes due to conflict. A total of 32 out of 34 provinces recorded some level of forced displacement. With reference to UNOCHA report 2019, a total of 119 incidents involving humanitarian aid workers were reported, compared with 102 during 2018 and 325 access-related incidents were reported in 2019 whereas 380 access restrictions were reported in 2018. The Presidential elections held in September 2019 saw an escalation in violence and movement restrictions. United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)’s indicates that attacks targeting the electoral process caused 458 civilian casualties (85 deaths and 373 injured), including 277 civilian casualties (28 deaths and 249 injured) on polling day with forty-five per cent of all civilian casualties on polling day being women and children. With election results pending to be released in 2020, the situation is likely to be volatile. In 2019 alone, eighty-four (84) healthcare providers were severely affected by attacks of which 18 killed, 31 injured, 27 detained (of which only 8 were released). Moreover, 258 healthcare facilities were affected with six healthcare facilities destroyed, 26 damaged, 192 closed (of which 34 were reopened). 2018 drought continued to affect the nutrition situation and it is estimated that 14.3 million people would be either in crisis or at emergency levels of food insecurity in 2020. People are consistently affected by floods, harsh winter and landslides every year. Poor shelter and unhygienic conditions, particularly in displacement, leave people especially newborns and infants vulnerable to disease with harsh-winter and floods. The joint Afghanistan winterization strategy highlighted that over 665,000 individuals will be in need of winterization assistance during 2019/2020 winter season. While Afghanistan has made progress towards improving children’s access to education, continued conflict, poverty and targeting of schools has put more stress on an already over-burdened education system. About one third of school-aged children, approximately 3.7 million children remain out-of-school. Despite continued efforts by humanitarian agencies, rising insecurity and armed clashes are posing challenges to programme implementation and monitoring.