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Humanitarian Action for Children 2020 - Afghanistan

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The crisis in Afghanistan has been ongoing for over 18 years, and humanitarian needs driven by armed conflict, natural disasters and poverty are on the rise. In 2020, over 9.4 million people (54 per cent children) will require humanitarian and protection assistance. Half of the population of Afghanistan – nearly 17 million people – live in conflict-affected areas and 103 districts are assessed as hardest to reach. The people of Afghanistan are routinely exposed to human rights violations, including deliberate attacks on schools and health facilities, sexual and gender-based violence and forced recruitment. Between January and September 2019, over 280,000 people (58 per cent children) were newly displaced by conflict and 336,000 people had returned to Afghanistan. One third of school-aged children (3.7 million children, including 2.2 million girls) are out of school, and 2 million of these children live in conflictaffected areas. An estimated 2 million children under 5 years and 485,000 pregnant and lactating women are affected by acute malnutrition, and nearly 600,000 children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in 2020. Direct and indirect violence against humanitarian personnel and assets/facilities continues to challenge humanitarian access, with 319 such incidents recorded between January and September 2019.

Humanitarian strategy

Results from 2019 UNICEF operations in Afghanistan will be led by its five field offices and six outposts to enable countrywide coverage and quality programming. As lead of the nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) clusters and the child protection area of responsibility and co-lead of the education cluster, UNICEF will enable strategic planning, coordinated response, capacity building of partners and advocacy at the national and state levels. Life-saving humanitarian assistance will be provided through the delivery of a timely, effective and integrated package of nutrition, health, WASH, child protection and education services. Sub-district health centres and mobile teams will provide hard-to-reach crisisaffected people with vital health and nutrition services. Education interventions will be expanded to include a multi-sectoral component incorporating WASH and child protection, including psychosocial support and referrals, which will increase programme costs. To improve humanitarian action and development programme linkages, UNICEF will invest in preparedness measures and risk-informed programming to strengthen local and community capacities by applying durable solutions to the most pressing needs of affected populations. Emergency cash programming will be implemented using common cash systems through inter-agency mechanisms such as the Cash Working Group. UNICEF will also promote crosscutting work in communication for development, accountability to affected populations, early childhood development and gender to promote community resilience.

Results from 2019

As of 31 August 2019, UNICEF had US$20.5 million available against the US$50 million appeal (41 per cent funded). UNICEF and partners reached some 500,000 affected people (60 per cent children) with humanitarian assistance during the year. Given the lack of flexible funding, UNICEF prioritized urgent life-saving interventions, limiting the ability of sectors and clusters to fully achieve their 2019 targets. Responses largely covered people affected by floods, drought and conflict in camps, host communities and places of origin. UNICEF reached affected populations with gendersensitive integrated services in education facilities, basic health centres, child-friendly spaces and communities. UNICEF’s humanitarian interventions focused on the provision of supplies and services that included the distribution of ready-to-use therapeutic foods, hygiene kits, teaching and learning materials, school tents, vaccines, essential medicines, winter kits, etc. UNICEF provided technical support and capacity building for partners at the national and subnational levels to improve emergency preparedness and response. As part of efforts to strengthen the linkages between humanitarian action and development programming, sectoral plans were developed based on multi-hazard vulnerability and risk analysis. With funding gaps exceeding 90 per cent for health, child protection and education, UNICEF reprogrammed regular resources to ensure the delivery of essential services.