One year on from regime change and Afghanistan’s children face an unimaginable crisis

15 Aug 2022 by World Vision
One year on from regime change and Afghanistan’s children face an unimaginable crisis

From the report:
• More than half of Afghan children in surveyed regions are acutely malnourished.
• Three-quarters of boys and half of all girls have to work instead of going to school.
• Two-thirds of births are carried out without skilled medical or midwifery assistance.

On the one-year anniversary of regime change in Afghanistan, a new World Vision report highlights the grave risk the country’s children face from starvation, forced child marriage, and child labour.

The report, Afghanistan: A Children's Crisis, calls for the international community to respond immediately and ensure that essential humanitarian aid reaches those most in need.

More than 800 Afghan parents, caregivers, and their children were surveyed for the report which paints a picture of how lives have changed in the year since political transition.

The report found that in the surveyed areas more than half of children were acutely malnourished, as families desperately try to survive on the mean household income of less than US$1 a day.

The National Director of World Vision Afghanistan, Asuntha Charles, says this widespread poverty is leading families to make desperate choices.

She says the survey finds three-quarters of all boys and more than half of all girls are now being sent out to work, rather than attend school.

“Parents and caregivers are facing devastating situations. Their children are starving so they’re left with no choice. They must either send their children to work or arrange child marriage to ensure their survival. This is a choice no parent should ever be forced to make,” she says.

Ms Charles says education is a fundamental right for Afghan girls and boys, but remains elusive and also risky. In 2021, the United Nations verified 116 attacks on schools and 35 incidences of military use of schools.

“Children are experiencing significant mental health issues as a result of recent changes. Around two-thirds of the parents we spoke to shared that a child in their care had demonstrated signs of psychosocial distress,” she says.

World Vision’s report also found that Afghanistan’s public health system is in crisis and that this presents a significant risk for women and children.

There has been a reduction in maternal, infant, and child health services, with only a third of all births attended by a skilled professional, such as a midwife.

The aid organisation warns that this is very likely to contribute to a rise in infant and maternal mortality.

World Vision New Zealand National Director Grant Bayldon says recent years of progress made in Afghanistan are at serious risk of being lost.

“Afghanistan is facing what many are calling the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and too many Afghan children are at risk of early death. Those who survive are starving, are no longer going to school, and are being forced into child marriage and child labour.

“It is time for all of us, but in particular world leaders, to remember these children. We need to take action to ensure Afghanistan’s children, like children right here in Aotearoa New Zealand, have the opportunity to play, to learn, to strive, and to live life in all its fullness,” he says.

Ms Charles says World Vision is calling on governments to hear the voices of Afghanistan’s children.

“While governments and decision-makers around the world have prioritised other emergencies, the children of Afghanistan have been largely forgotten. We are calling on the international community to take the necessary action to support Afghanistan's people so that they can recover and rebuild from this devastating humanitarian crisis.”

World Vision has been working with local communities in Afghanistan for more than 20 years. Last year the organisation provided emergency food, water, and health services to more than one million people.

To help the children of Afghanistan survive, recover, and build a future, please visit