International aid organization, World Vision warned that Afghanistan’s forgotten children are at risk of starvation, forced child marriage, and child labor unless the international community responds immediately.
World Vision’s report, entitled, Afghanistan: A Children’s Crisis, was produced a year after the political transition and surveyed over 800 parents, caregivers, and their children, to investigate how their lives have changed one year later.
The report found that in surveyed areas the mean income for a household is less than a dollar a day (USD $0.95) and that over half (53%) of surveyed children were classed as acutely malnourished.
“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” said Asuntha Charles, National Director for World Vision Afghanistan.
The report found that in order to help support their families, 7 out of 10 boys and over half of all girls were sent to work rather than attending school and fifty-seven percent of caregivers reported that their children have missed school.
“Children are experiencing significant mental health issues as a result of recent changes. Sixty-six percent of the parents we spoke to shared that a child in their care had demonstrated signs of psychosocial distress,” said Ms. Charles. The World Vision report also found that Afghanistan’s public health system is in crisis and is creating significant risk for women and children. Sixty-four percent of babies are delivered at home, and less than a third of births are attended by a skilled professional”.
The report also highlights that the contraction of maternal, newborn, and child health services and the reduction of trained personnel rolls back years of progress.
The NGO warns that this is very likely to contribute to a rise in infant and maternal mortality.
“While governments and decision-makers around the world have prioritised other emergencies the children of Afghanistan have been forgotten. Economic sanctions on the country have a clear exception for humanitarian aid and not all governments are funding this important work. Too many Afghan children are at risk of early death. Those who survive are no longer going to school, are starving and are being forced into child marriage and child labor. It is time for world leaders to remember these children, and ensure they, like every child in the world, should have the opportunity to play, learn, strive, and to have the opportunity to live life in all its fullness”.
Recent years of progress made in Afghanistan are at risk of being lost, in the face of what some are classing as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, exacerbated by the volatility of political, economic, and climate events. World Vision is calling on the international community to take the necessary action, in order to support Afghanistan’s people in recovering from the humanitarian and childhood crisis they are currently enduring.