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Afghanistan floods: 'There is no life left for us here. You want to put your head in your hands and shout and cry.'

KABUL, (MAY 17, 2024) - Children and their families are living under trees or in the ruins of their homes after a village was nearly entirely destroyed by flash floods that tore through Baghlan province in Northern Afghanistan one week ago, said Save the Children.

The floods that hit Afghanistan have killed at least 200 people – including children – according to the de facto authorities and left many more homeless.

Burka district in Baghlan province is one of the most severely affected areas, with many people entirely reliant on aid after losing everything. More than 3,100 homes in the province have been destroyed1, according to the most recent interagency assessments, with the damage to four districts in the province remaining unknown as they are inaccessible by road. This number is also likely to change, with wide variations in the reporting of numbers as rescue operations continue.

12-year-old Firoza* was at home with her sisters and nieces when she heard thunder and the sound of water rushing down the hill above her. She said: 

"I wanted to climb up the hill, but I heard the flood. People shouted to me to come down because a flash flood was coming from the top [of the hill]. If I had not gone inside the house, the flood would have taken me away. My sister was just a few steps away from me. I shouted many times, but she did not hear me, and the flood took her away with the two children." 

Firoza's 4-year-old niece was one of those children. She was swept away and did not survive. Firoza's sister was also seriously injured and was airlifted to hospital. Firoza said:

"Only about 20 women survived - the flood took the others away. We found my injured niece one or two minutes away from here. A boy rescued her. If that boy had not rescued her, she would have died. His lower back, hands, and feet are injured." 

"Now, there is no life left for us here. The government only provides us with bread and biscuits, nothing else. We don't have water - the flood washed away our water storage. We had two gallons of water that is finished now.

"In the past, there were floods, but they were not this severe. It was so severe this time that people could only try to save themselves, and everything was washed away.

"For the past two or three years, there has been a lack of water and poor harvests. Everything became expensive, leading to hunger - we could not afford food. My father is jobless and old. 

"Before, the village was green and beautiful like heaven. I used to like sitting on the green grass. Now everything is ruined, and when you see it, you feel crazy. You want to put your head in your hands and shout and cry."

Save the Children is operating a 'clinic on wheels' in Baghlan as part of its emergency response program. The clinic includes male and female doctors, mental health and child protection specialists, and mobile child-friendly spaces. Children in the flood hit areas have little access to clean water, with some reporting stomach problems to our health teams. Our health teams have so far provided services to 1,758 people. We have also distributed 50,000 liters of drinking water over the last three days and, working with local partners, have delivered essential items, including blankets, children's clothes and kitchen and hygiene kits.

Arshad Malik, Country Director for Save the Children in Afghanistan, said:

"The impacts of these devastating floods are immediate – and long-term. Children urgently need clean water and health care to ensure that the existing disaster is not made even worse by a disease outbreak. They also need long-term mental health support – so many have lost loved ones.

"80% of Afghans rely on agriculture for their income. There is no quick fix for the thousands of acres of devastated farmland. There is no easy solution for livelihoods that the effects of the climate crisis have yet again decimated.

"More than half of Afghanistan's population need humanitarian assistance. With more support from the international donor community, we can together address the immediate and long-term impacts of the climate crisis in Afghanistan and help communities to prepare for the impacts of extreme weather."

Save the Children has been supporting communities and protecting children's rights across Afghanistan since 1976, including during periods of conflict and natural disasters. We have program in nine provinces and work with partners in an additional seven provinces. Since August 2021, we've been scaling up our response to support the increasing number of children in need. We deliver health, nutrition, education, child protection, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, and livelihood support.


1OCHA report 16 May

*denotes names changed to protect identity.

Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. Since our founding more than 100 years ago, we've been advocating for the rights of children worldwide. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming the future we share. Our results, financial statements and charity ratings reaffirm that Save the Children is a charity you can trust. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.