The following countries each face very challenging circumstances and are in need of your support:
Afghanistan (Last Update: December 2021)
Due to persisting conflict, climate change and an ongoing economic crisis, over 18 million people in Afghanistan, which is about half of the country’s population, are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. This year, a severe drought has been wreaking havoc in over 70% of the country’s provinces, leaving many in a dire situation without any livelihoods and means to buy food which is already in short supply. The situation is particularly challenging in winter, as winter snows may cut off access to remote areas and hamper the efforts to provide food aid for vulnerable communities. It is estimated that, from this November to March 2022, more than half of Afghanistan’s population (over 22 million) will face acute food insecurity.
World Vision has been present in Afghanistan since 2001. Despite the current instability and risks, World Vision staff has remained committed to providing assistance for the most vulnerable children and families, including internally displaced persons. We are working in 4 provinces, focusing on providing primary health care and nutritional services including assessing nutritional status of children, pregnant and lactating women and providing support, as well as collaborating with World Food Programme to provide life-saving food assistance in areas most affected by hunger. We are also planning to build solar-powered bore wells to ensure communities can have access to clean drinking water.
The Choices Afghan Families Are Forced to Make Leave Us All With Questions (Excerpt)
By Asuntha Charles, National Director of World Vision Afghanistan
If you were starving and you knew the sale of one of your children would prevent the rest of your children from dying, would you do it?
For a moment let’s put aside the shocking reality that in Afghanistan you can even purchase a child, a practice which is now increasing in response to the dire hunger situation in the provinces where my emergency response staff work.
Maldara and her children had to flee from their home in Afghanistan due to conflict. She is very concerned about keeping her children warm and well-fed in the coming winter.
The situation in Afghanistan is so bad that my dedicated national emergency response staff - while running food aid programmes deep into remote areas - have now set up an in-office staff fund to support desperate families to stop them from selling their own daughters. They know those girls, often incredibly young, will end up married to older men or sold into servitude and vulnerability.
Although these practices took place before the Taliban came to power it has now worsened due to the hunger crisis. My staff recently even heard of one father who tried to leave his children at a mosque, such was his desperation. This is happening because the food assistance programmes like those we run which meet the needs of many thousands are being outpaced by the growing numbers of people facing starvation.
Afghanistan is now facing its worst hunger crisis in living memory. The latest stats show that more than half of the 40 million population are facing acute levels of malnutrition and that children are dying due to starvation. Amongst this terrible number almost nine million people are right on the edge of starvation. In this context untold numbers of children will be begging, married off into violent homes, forced into dangerous and exploitive work and pulled from school.
Winter is now what everyone fears, as things will get much worse, fast. Soon snow falls will prevent access to remote areas which could then be cut off for up to four months. We are very quickly running out of time to get food aid into villages that will soon become inaccessible.
My organisation, World Vision, has been on the ground for 20 years undertaking a range of humanitarian and development work, but the activities that are most critical at this moment are providing emergency nutrition via 15 mobile health clinics. Of the 3,600 children aged under five we treated in clinics in Herat and Ghor provinces in October, 808 had moderate acute or severe acute malnutrition while 2,694 received treatment for acute respiratory infections. It is heartbreaking to visit these clinics and meet young mothers who share stories of their struggles to survive on almost nothing. The medical staff in them serve the most vulnerable, including people displaced by conflict and who live in abject poverty. Medical staff measure the arms of children as an indicator of how malnourished they are. The weakest get sent to specialist nutrition wards in hospitals. Those wards are filling with children, sometimes several to a bed, and deaths are increasingly commonplace.
The other thing we do is provide food that World Food Programme gives us to distribute in the remote and mountainous provinces where we work in Western Afghanistan. All these are marked ‘emergency’ red on a map managed by global food security experts who have assessed the food situation. In fact, most of Afghanistan is now red - and just one step away from ‘famine’ black.
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