New figures reveal the appalling cost of the decades long conflict to children in Afghanistan, as Save the Children joins calls for increased humanitarian funding ahead of this week's donor conference in Geneva.
Between 2005 and 2019, at least 26,025 children have been killed or maimed in Afghanistan -- an average of five children every single day over the past 14 years[i].
Nine-year-old Shogofa* is from Fayrab province. She was critically wounded in a rocket attack on her home, which killed three of her siblings. She said, "*Our house was destroyed. My three brothers were killed and my hand was injured. I was crying and crying. We now live in a tent. I hope that there will be peace and we're able to move home."*
Now the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated humanitarian need, especially for children. According to UN estimates, 7 million children[ii] need urgent help, but the UN's humanitarian appeal for 2020 is less than half funded.
- Between 2017 and 2019, there have been more than 300 attacks on schools, injuring or killing at least 410 students and teachers [iii]
- 3.7 million children, almost half of all primary school-aged children are out of school [iv]
- 93 per cent of late primary school-aged children are not proficient in reading [v]
- 60 per cent of school-aged children missing out on their education are girls [vi]
- Spending on education is presently 78 per cent less than the average for the South Asia region [vii]
- 14 million people, nearly 50 per cent of the country's population, need humanitarian assistance [viii]
- More than 7 million children are at risk of hunger just this year [ix]
- 3 million children under the age of five suffer from under-nutrition [x]
- The UN's humanitarian appeal is currently only 42 per cent funded [xi]
Chris Nyamandi, Save the Children's Country Director in Afghanistan, said: "Imagine living with the constant fear that today might be the day that your child is killed in a suicide attack or an airstrike. This is the grim reality for tens of thousands of Afghan parents whose children have been killed or injured.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has added to children's misery and must be addressed with new funding. But as the humanitarian needs rise higher than ever, it is a struggle to secure the funds needed to help people.
"This week's conference is a crucial moment for donor governments to reaffirm their support to Afghanistan and its millions of children, at a time when it is needed more than ever," said Mr Nyamandi.
As the 2020 Afghanistan Conference starts in Geneva, Save the Children urges the international community to:
- increase funding for education, especially for girls, as well as protect the interests of people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups;
- increase spending on public health to support children, many of whom are having to live with life-altering injuries due to being caught up in the conflict;
- work with the government of Afghanistan to ensure national laws related to the protection of children are fully resourced and rolled out nationwide;
- secure an enduring peace settlement so that future generations grow up free from the fear of violence and death.
Notes to editor
Save the Children has been working in Afghanistan since 1976. Our programs help thousands of children get access to education and healthy food. We support health clinics and respond to humanitarian emergencies. And we work to help limit the impact of conflict on children.
[i] Insert link to SWOC report
[ii] OCHA: Afghanistan
[v] World Bank, "Afghanistan Learning Poverty Brief", October 2019