The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), launching its largest ever single-country appeal, has said it needs $2 billion to respond to the humanitarian needs of 24 million people in Afghanistan, half of whom are children.
UNICEF said the $2 billion appeal will help to avert the imminent collapse of health, education and other crucial social services for children and their families.
According to UNICEF, with the deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan, and the breakdown of the health system along with the food crisis, droughts, outbreaks of measles, acute watery diarrhea, polio, and other preventable diseases, millions of children are in need of support.
“The current humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is dire, especially for children. Winter has already set in and, without additional funding, UNICEF and partners will be unable to reach the children and families that need us the most,” said Alice Akunga, UNICEF Afghanistan Representative.
UNICEF says that with the economic problems and the families’ inability to feed their children properly, millions of Afghan children are at risk of starvation.
“As families struggle to put nutritious food on the table and health systems are further strained, millions of Afghan children are at risk of starvation and death. Others struggle to access water and sanitation, are cut off from their schools and at heightened risk of violence,” Akunga added.
UNICEF estimates that one in two children under five years old will be acutely malnourished in 2022 due to the food crisis and poor access to water and hygiene services.
UNICEF says that the outbreaks of life-threatening diseases will continue, adding that over 60,000 cases of measles were reported in 2021. “An estimated 8 of 10 Afghans drink bacteriologically contaminated water. In addition, 10 million children are at risk of dropping out of school if teacher salaries are not paid and crippling poverty levels continue. Almost 4.5 million children are in need of mental health and psychosocial support,” UNICEF said in a statement.
According to UNICEF, the harsh winter will increase the problems for children and their families.