The European Union (EU) on Sunday announced it will contribute Euros 25 million (about $29 million) – in the form of a four-year grant – to help Afghan children on the move and to end polio.
According to a statement issued by the EU, the grant will enable UNICEF and partners to better reintegrate displaced children, and to provide them with a protective environment. It will also support UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the government of Afghanistan to eradicate polio.
Ambassador Pierre Mayaudon, Head of European Union Delegation to Afghanistan, said: “This Euros 25 million grant for both children on the move and polio eradication illustrates the European people’s support and dedication to improving the lives of the most vulnerable children in Afghanistan”.
The EU stated that this grant will provide opportunities to protect Afghan children on their migratory journeyand help increase their resilience by strengthening their coping mechanisms, including the provision of psychosocial support and will facilitate their reintegration into their communities. It will also contribute to the eradication of polio in Afghanistan, which is one of the three polio-endemic countries in the world together with Pakistan and Nigeria.
“We are extremely grateful to the European Union and its people for their commitment and support to children in Afghanistan,” said Adele Khodr, UNICEF Afghanistan Representative.
“This significant EU support will help bring hope and stability to the children and people of Afghanistan and will expedite polio eradication,” she said.
In Afghanistan, the complexity of the situation with increased violence, poverty and natural disasters, pushes children to migrate to Iran and other countries, and exposes them to abuse, neglect and exploitation during their migration journey. The unique feature of this grant is that it is an integrated two-country response that includes Iran and Afghanistan. It will strengthen cross-border information sharing, programme planning and response to safeguard the best interests of children.
The grant will also contribute to the eradication of polio, where prioritization of children on the move between Pakistan and Afghanistan is a key strategy. Experience from other endemic countries shows the critical role of mobile populations in spreading polio transmission and delaying its eradication.
“Afghanistan has made significant progress towards polio eradication, where transmission is limited to specific geographical areas. However, access, population on the move and insecurity continue to pose a challenge,” said Dr. Rik Peeperkorn, Afghanistan WHO Representative. “This grant presents an excellent opportunity to stop polio transmission as it protects past investments and gains made, and most importantly, it ensures that children are protected from polio forever.“