This year, some 2.3 million Afghan boys and girls are expected to face acute malnutrition. Of this number, 875,000 will need treatment for severe acute malnutrition, a life-threatening condition. Furthermore, around 840,000 pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are likely to experience acute malnutrition, jeopardising their ability to give their babies the best start in life.
Mr. Equiza added that although fighting has mostly stopped, decades of conflict mean that every day, children’s rights are violated “in the most appalling ways”. He said Afghanistan is among the most “weapons-contaminated countries” in the world, and most of the casualties are children. He cited preliminary data which suggests that 134 children were killed or maimed by explosive devices between January and March of this year. “This is the reality of the escalating danger faced by Afghan children as they explore areas that were previously inaccessible due to fighting,” he said. “Many of those killed and maimed are children collecting scrap metal to sell. Because that’s what poverty does. It compels you to send your children to work – not because you want to, but because you have to.”
Meanwhile, roughly 1.6 million Afghan children – some as young as six – are trapped in child labour, working in dangerous conditions just to help their parents put food on the table. “And where education used to be a symbol of hope, children’s right to learn is under attack,” Mr. Equiza added. “Girls across Afghanistan have been denied their right to learn for over three years now – first, due to COVID-19 and then, since September 2021, because of the ban on attending secondary school. I don’t need to tell you of the impact of these absences on their mental health.” He underlined UNICEF’s commitment to stay and deliver for the women and children in Afghanistan, where it has had a presence for nearly 75 years. With needs growing every day, he called for greater support from the international community, noting that UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children Appeal is only 22 percent funded.
Source: The UN
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