“It is like hell here”: Grim projections warn 2500 children could die each week in Afghanistan this year

More than 130,000 children could die in Afghanistan in 2022 as the country’s humanitarian crisis worsens, disturbing new figures show.

Families are selling their belongings on city streets to survive, burning clothes to ward off the cold of a bitter winter and children are sharing hospital beds and dying of malnutrition, according to World Vision staff.

If no action is taken, 1.1 million acutely malnourished children under the age of five will be left without access to treatment this year, new figures from the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reveal.

That represents about 2500 children dying each week in 2022.

“It is like hell here,” said one woman about the condition of the state hospital she was visiting to get help for her acutely malnourished baby boy. The baby was too weak to open his eyes or even to cry; he was lying down, struggling to fill his little lungs with air.

The humanitarian community, through coordination with UNOCHA and UNHCR, has launched the latest Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) and Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRP). It has assessed the needs in Afghanistan and neighbouring Afghan refugee hosting countries and devised strategies to respond. 


World Vision Afghanistan National Director Asuntha Charles said: “Over the last year I have witnessed the dramatic deterioration in the condition of children, their families and communities.


“You only need to turn on a TV or read in an article about the harrowing conditions the people of Afghanistan are experiencing daily: families selling their possessions on city streets; people, mostly women, are skipping meals and eating smaller portions; children are being married off early into wealthier families so their siblings can live; small children are sharing hospital beds and dying of malnutrition. 


“Afghanistan now leads the world in the number of people in Emergency levels of hunger (IPC 4). More than half of all children under five are facing acute malnutrition. In this dire situation there are increasing incidences of parents taking desperate measures to feed their families. Sadly, we are also seeing a reversal of some of the important development gains made to protect children.”


“Considering the various funding restrictions, high inflation and consequential rise in hunger, we ask donors and humanitarian coordination lead agencies to prioritise emergency food assistance support to vulnerable populations, such as children, pregnant and nursing mothers.”


She urged donor governments to adopt urgently the Security Council Resolution 2615 (2021) that makes allowances for finances and timely delivery of humanitarian assistance.


“Funding remains one of the major stumbling blocks for humanitarian organisations in the country. $4.44 billion is what is needed in 2022 to reach 22.1 million people,” she said.


 “While many donors have generously stepped up, our work has been severely restricted by sanctions and difficulty accessing finances.


“The funds pledged need to be on the ground now,” she said.


“Those who are already suffering are now enduring several brutal winter months without enough food and shelter to stay warm. Afghan children are full of potential, and World Vision commits to support them. They cannot wait. They need our help, and they need it today.”


World Vision has been working in Afghanistan for 21 years and is committed to stay and deliver. 

The organisation has worked to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to around six million Afghans amid conflict, climate change and other disasters.

World Vision has worked to protect girls and boys, provided them with education, promoted better health and sanitation, and helped to build livelihoods.


For more information or for interview requests, contact: Elissa Doherty 0409 994 433 or elissa.doherty@worldvision.com.au



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