Schools in Afghanistan re-opened in March, however, girls from Grade 7 to Grade 12 were prevented from returning to class.
In the face of increasing disease outbreaks, including measles and AWD/Cholera, UNICEF and partners reached more than 4 million people with life-saving health services across the country, while 195,574 people had access to safe drinking water.
Furthermore, 1.28 million children were vaccinated as part of the measles outbreak response intervention.
During the reporting period, more than 35,700 children were treated for severe acute malnutrition (SAM).
In March, with UNICEF support, 56,113 households (409,624 people) received an emergency cash transfer to help meet basic needs.
Almost 90% of child casualties from explosive ordnance and remnants of war in the world, came from Afghanistan. UNICEF increased its Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) response reaching 24,563 children in March.
Funding Overview and Partnerships
The UNICEF Afghanistan Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) appeal is the largest single-country appeal in the history of the organization, valued at US$ 2 billion for 2022. Thanks to partners’ generous contributions, the appeal is currently around 25 per cent funded. This includes flexible emergency funding from both public and private partners, which will continuously enable UNICEF to use resources to respond to rising and sudden needs. Some contributions received in 2021 will continue to support implementation in 2022, including funds from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), the European Union (Directorate-Generals for International Partnerships, and European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations), and the governments of the United State of America, United Kingdom, and France. UNICEF is grateful to the government of Sweden, the Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund (AHF), Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and the UNICEF family of National Committees for contributions received during the last month. UNICEF will continue to partner with donors to ensure sufficient resources are mobilized to address the needs of children and communities in Afghanistan.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
On 23 March, the academic year (2022/2023) started in most provinces for all children, except girls from Grade 7 to Grade 12. The move swiftly drew domestic and international criticism of the Taliban for backtracking on its commitment that all girls around the country would be allowed to return to school. The UNICEF Executive Director urged the de facto authorities to “honour their commitment to girls’ education without any further delays.” In a joint statement on 25 March, ten members of the UN Security Council called on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to reopen all girls’ schools across Afghanistan. Initially around 17 provinces kept secondary schools open for girls, but once the written instruction was received, schools started sending girls home in most of those provinces. However, as of 31 March, secondary education for girls continued in a small number of provinces (around 9 at the time of reporting).
Children across Afghanistan are increasingly vulnerable to disease and illness due to the combination of rising malnutrition, drought, displacement, and lack of access to safe water, sanitation and health services. The measles outbreak remains a significant concern with 62,185 cases of measles and 330 deaths reported across the country since January 2021. This is up from 43,988 cases the month before. Of the reported cases, around 80 per cent were among children under five. A resurgence of AWD/Cholera was observed towards the end of March, likely associated with increasingly warm weather with Kabul, Kapisa, Zabul, Kandahar, Laghman and Logar provinces the most affected. Forty-eight new cases were identified in Surobi district and 18 cases in Kabul city. In response to the heightened risk of increasing AWD, UNICEF, WHO and partners worked with the de facto Ministry of Public Health and de facto Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development to review and update the preparedness and response plan for 2022.
Across the country, 22.8 million people – half of the population – are projected to be acutely food insecure in 2022 (IPC 3 and 4). Results of the ongoing Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) assessment are expected by the end of April. The nutrition situation in the country remains alarming with an estimated 3.2 million children in Afghanistan expected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2022, and a million severely malnourished children at risk of death, if immediate action is not taken. During the reporting period, five SMART surveys were completed in urban settings (Herat, Kabul, Kandahar, Mazar, and Nangarhar). Data collection for the provincial level SMART surveys has started for four out of the eight target provinces.