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Humanitarian Action for Children 2022 - Afghanistan

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  • The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated significantly with the recent political and socioeconomic developments. Essential services are on the brink of collapse, exacerbating the needs of an already vulnerable population. More than half of the population, 24.4 million people, need humanitarian assistance, including 12.9 million children. Multiple disease outbreaks (measles, acute watery diarrhoea, dengue, COVID19) are ongoing. In 2022, 8.7 million people will be in emergency level food insecurity and 1 in 2 children under 5 years will be acutely malnourished. The full impact of the political transition has not yet materialized, with considerable socioeconomic shocks expected to affect children's survival.

  • The needs of vulnerable Afghan children and their families are unprecedented. In response, UNICEF will uphold the humanitarian imperative and prioritize life-saving activities. This will help ensure urgent scale-up of WASH, health, nutrition, education and child protection services by preventing collapse of critical systems and safeguard hard-won gains, including protecting the rights of women and girls.

  • US$2 billion is urgently needed to meet the humanitarian needs of 15.3 million people in Afghanistan.


1.1 million children admitted for treatment for severe acute malnutrition

10.5 million children vaccinated against measles

11.5 million people accessing a sufficient quantity of safe water

7.5 million children accessing educational services


24.4 million people

12.9 million children


15.3 million people

8.1 million children


US$ 2 billion


The degree of suffering is nearly unprecedented. The political and socioeconomic developments of 2021, with leadership transitions and implications on basic services and financial systems, have brought further turmoil to a country that has experienced four decades of prolonged conflict, recurrent natural disasters, chronic poverty, and disease outbreaks including the devastating effects of COVID-19. More than half of the population requires some form of humanitarian assistance and protection - a 25 per cent increase since early 2021. Population movements will continue throughout 2022, with over 650,000 estimated to be displaced by economic hardships, shocks and insecurity and 785,400 expected to return from abroad. Based on recent events, simulations suggest that without urgent action, Afghanistan could see near universal poverty of 97 per cent by mid-2022, up from 47 per cent in 2020. The loss of purchasing power with rising poverty has coincided with soaring prices of basic commodities, further heightening humanitarian needs. Harsh winter conditions with temperatures far below freezing worsen these vulnerabilities yet further. The current crisis and its uncertainties for women’s rights creates a conducive environment for heightened gender-based violence, which already affects 46 per cent of Afghan women.

Without access to minimum life-saving services, Afghans will suffer cataclysmic effects. Thirty five million people rely on basic primary health care services for life-saving care; without sustained access to these services, an estimated 112 children will die every day. The deteriorating situation has left 8.7 million people in emergency food insecurity level 4 (IPC 4). Undernutrition contributes to 45 per cent of child deaths in Afghanistan. Currently, acute malnutrition is above emergency thresholds in 27 of 34 provinces and rapidly worsening. Drought has exacerbated WASH needs, with 53 per cent of water points across three provinces drying up. The breakdown of water services in urban settings has halved water availability and increased contamination from wastewater; 8 of 10 Afghans now drink bacteriologically contaminated water.

Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, access to education was a challenge, with cultural practices, displacement, inaccessibility and lack of facilities keeping 4.2 million (60 per cent girls) out of school. Without sustained access to education, 7.9 million more children risk missing out on critical education. Prolonged school closures and absences often result in children, particularly girls, not returning to complete their education – with lasting impacts on children. These impacts, combined with the socioeconomic crisis, have nearly obliterated coping mechanisms and given rise to child labour and early marriage. With the economy and many public service sectors verging on collapse due to non-payment of salaries and empty government coffers, Afghanistan's people face an uncertain future.