The recent escalation in violence in Afghanistan forced Save the Children to suspend its programmes in the country in mid-August but the organisation is 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 secondhighest 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 has launched an appeal to fund life-saving programmes in Afghanistan. In a petition, the organisation is calling on leaders to ensure Afghan children get the aid they need, and to create safe and legal routes to 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.
Save the Children Australia CEO, Paul Ronalds 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 here to Australia. Many of them arrived exhausted, with nothing but the clothes they are wearing, and ordinary people have rallied together to collect donations and offer support. Now it’s time for the governments to step up and do its bit as well. I urge the Australian Government to continue supporting Afghan children in Afghanistan and here in Australia.”
Save the Children is an independent, impartial, and politically neutral organisation that has worked in Afghanistan since 1976 to deliver lifesaving 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.
To support Save the Children’s efforts to help Afghan children and their families, donations can be made to our Children’s Emergency Fund.
Save the Children Australia has launched a petition in support of the sector-wide call for an additional humanitarian intake from Afghanistan and increased humanitarian aid.
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