Afghanistan is facing a widespread humanitarian crisis which has forced large numbers of people from their homes. The needs context includes a backdrop of emergency levels of food insecurity, further compounded by continued conflict and displacement. Some one million people are currently on the move - both inside the country and around the border areas with Pakistan and Iran – a figure far in excess of planning estimates. This figure includes 400,000 undocumented returnees and tens of thousands of people entering the country from Pakistan.
These population movements threaten to make the fragile situation inside Afghanistan still worse. Four decades of violent conflict inside the country show no sign of ending.
Increasing violence in Afghanistan has now led to almost 400,000 people fleeing their homes in search of safety. Desperate families with nowhere to go are building make-shift shelters, with little access to even the most basic supplies, like food and hygiene facilities.
In total some 18.4 million people inside Afghanistan are in need of emergency humanitarian assistance. 52% of these are children. Limited access to clean water and sanitation has also placed millions at risk of contracting diarrhoea, typhoid, polio and other contagious diseases.
Situation of Children
Children make up more than half (57 per cent) of the population in need of emergency humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan. Child protection structures inside the country are severely lacking. Afghan children grow up with the constant threat of violence and face numerous other rights violations - including forced marriage, corporal punishment and hazardous working conditions. There has been recent Taliban resurgence in the region and an increasing number of children are fleeing across the border in search of work and safety in Iran
An entire generation of Afghan children and youth are growing up without opportunities to learn. As many as 3.5 million children inside Afghanistan are currently out of school - 75 per cent of whom are girls. The low proportion of female teachers remains a major hindrance for girls’ enrolment and retention.
Recent assessments indicate that more than a third of children have been exposed to psychological distress due to loss of family and community members, and the constant risk of death and injury.
What We Do
Led by War Child UK, we have been directly supporting children in Afghanistan since 2002. Nearly 20 years later, our work has never been more important. Despite the deeply challenging circumstances, we are still on the ground, working around the clock to keep children and their families safe.
We started our work in the city of Herat, in the western region; implementing food security and livelihoods projects with internally displace families who had come from other provinces. In 2007, we expanded to the eastern and central region including Kabul, to cover three areas: protection, education and livelihoods - as well as broader issues like advocacy and gender discrimination.
The focus of our Afghanistan programme is to help find and protect unaccompanied minors, children working on the streets or young people in conflict with the law. We provide counselling and educational support and speak up strongly for children’s rights.
In 2017 we also participated in an international Joint Response as part of the Dutch Relief Alliance. This programme sees participating organisations implement relief programmes to assist Internally Displaced Persons and other communities affected by the conflict.
Educational Opportunities for Vulnerable Children
This project addresses the protection, education and psychosocial support needs of vulnerable children aged between four and six. The early childhood care and development (ECCD) needs of children in both urban and rural areas surrounding Kabul are targeted and additional support is provided to parents and caregivers.
War Childs Helpline
War Child’s help line is of particular interest in Herat and neighboring districts. Families can call and ask their child rights questions. Children can call to report abuse. it’s a great example of holistic child rights response - teaching both parent and child the importance of realising children’s rights. The aim is to respond to the urgent violations and abuse needs of 720 children in Herat and neighboring districts through development of standard case management database to facilitate better response and tracing, call response, home visits, and follow up of cases referred to child helpline.
Reuniting children with their families: supporting the Iranian caseload of unaccompanied minor deportees. WCUK has been working in Western Afghanistan in partnership with the IOM and UNICEF to respond to the needs of vulnerable uncompanioned and separated children since 2014. WCUK’s response over the last 4 years prioritizes the improved protection of unaccompanied minors and separated children deported through the Islam Qala Border (and more recently covering the Nimroz border point), strengthening access to social protection services including psychosocial support, and gathering vital tracing information to help identify the minors before transporting them to transit centers to be reunited with their families.
Protecting children and vulnerable women from violence in the justice system in Afghanistan
This project is run in partnership with Terre des Hommes in Nangarhar and Herat provinces. The project supports the development of a protective system of justice that is responsive to the needs of women and children, building upon three main pillars: i) prevention and integration to protect vulnerable women and children from coming into contact with the law in the first place or through recidivism; ii) supporting women and children in detention to gain agency and prepare towards safe reintegration back into their families and communities; iii) increase the overall support and commitment to the upholding of women and children’s rights in the chain of justice.
Voices of Children
Delaram Wants to Learn
Seven-year-old Delaram lives in western Afghanistan - where early marriage is all too common. Girls here often become wives whilst they’re still in their early teens.
Delaram had wanted to be ‘a wife’ herself when she grew up - that was before she went to school.
Delaram's family is one of 300 living in temporary mud settlements perched precariously on the side of a working quarry. Fleeing the violence in their region meant starting a new life from scratch - but it's a hard and dusty existence.
War Child helped set up a basic school here. There are no chairs or desks - just a few mats thrown on the floor. But we have provided the textbooks, stationery and bags that help give children like Delaram an invaluable education.
Eight months of literacy and numeracy training have helped broaden Delaram's horizons. She now doesn’t want to get married until she’s at least 20 - and she wants to have a job of her own.
Delaram’s mother has also noticed the changes in her daughter. "Delaram has learnt so much - I can see that education is very important for her future," she says. "I’m very happy that she is getting an education.”