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Save the Children Hoping to Resume Life-Saving Services for Children in Afghanistan Soon

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (Sept. 03, 2021) —Save the Children said it is hoping to restart some life-saving health and nutrition services in Afghanistan before the winter months set in amid growing concerns about a devastating humanitarian crisis unfolding across the country.

The recent escalation in violence in Afghanistan forced Save the Children to suspend its programs in the country in mid-August. Still, the organization said it is now confident that some of its staff would be able to return to work as soon as assurances for the safe access of both male and female staff are in place.  

“It’s vital to restart some programs to help avoid a disaster from unfolding down the line,” said Hassan Noor, Asia Regional Director for Save the Children. ”Children are going hungry; they are out of school, winter is coming – urgent action is needed.” The safe return of our female staff at all levels is particularly vital given the essential and life-saving nature of the work they are carrying out, and without them we will not be able to deliver on our mission for children.”

Even before the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan was crippled by hunger and poverty, with the second-highest number of people facing hunger in the world; as COVID-19, conflict, and drought combined to create a food crisis of a scale not previously seen. 

Afghanistan officially fell into drought in June – the second severe drought in four years – driving an estimated 14 million people, or over one-third of the population, into hunger. This included about two million children dependent on nutrition services, with half of all children aged under five expected to suffer from acute malnutrition this year. 

With the humanitarian response for Afghanistan grossly underfunded and the needs rising sharply the organization called on world leaders to ensure Afghan children get the aid they need and to create safe and legal routes to those wanting to reach safety and build a new life. 

The organization said without urgent help, tens of thousands of children could lose their lives to malnutrition and disease in a country heading into winter, when temperatures can drop as low as -3°F, with freezing nights and frequent snowfall.

Janti Soeripto, Save the Children President and CEO said:

“Even before this crisis, humanitarian aid to Afghanistan was critically low, and millions of people were in desperate need of life-saving help. But now the situation is getting far, far worse. Since the violence escalated, even more children are going hungry and living outside in the open without shelter, food, or medical care. Families who try to flee to safety are facing unimaginable horrors. Children are traumatized.

“Save the Children has been helping in Afghanistan for over 40 years, and we’re not going to stop now. Right now, our teams are providing crucial aid to displaced families where we can, and we are confident that some of our brave female and male frontline workers will resume work soon. But to save more lives, we urgently need governments to take action now. 

“It’s heart-warming to see communities coming together to do what they can for refugee families who have made it here to the United States. Many of them arrived exhausted and shivering, with nothing but the clothes they are wearing, and overnight, ordinary people have rallied together to collect donations and offer support. Now it’s time for the government to step up and do its bit as well.

Save the Children is an independent, impartial, and politically neutral organization that has worked in Afghanistan since 1976 to deliver life-saving services to children and their families across the country but has had to temporarily suspended services. The organization provided health, education, child protection, nutrition, and livelihoods services, reaching over 1.6 million Afghans in 2020. 


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