World Vision's report finds half of surveyed Afghan children acutely malnourished
International aid organisation, World Vision, today warned that Afghanistan’s forgotten children are at risk of starvation, forced child marriage and child labour unless the international community responds immediately.
World Vision’s report, entitled “Afghanistan: A Children’s Crisis”, was produced a year after 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, new born 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. 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 labour. 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, to learn, to strive and to have the opportunity to live life in all its fullness.
“Recent years of progress made in Afghanistan is 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. We are calling on the international community to take the necessary action, in order to support Afghanistan’s people in recovering from the humanitarian crisis they are currently enduring,” said Ms Charles.
World Vision began emergency relief operations in Afghanistan in 2001, addressing humanitarian needs of children and their families affected by conflict and natural disaster.