Years of conflict, natural disasters and the fallout of COVID-19 have pushed Afghanistan to the brink of disaster. Our teams are on the ground in Kandahar, working to provide children with treatment for malnutrition and vital immunization services.
In the United States, where thousands of Afghan children are arriving as they seek refuge from escalating violence in their home country, Save the Children has mobilized to meet their most urgent needs. Your support is needed now more than ever.
Help Save Children in Afghanistan
Afghan children have known nothing but conflict their entire lives.
Right now, the situation for children in Afghanistan is dire, with at least 75,000 having had to flee their homes in the last months amid escalating violence. Even before the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan was crippled by hunger and poverty; as COVID-19, conflict, and drought combined to create a food crisis of a scale not previously seen.
Save the Children has been helping in Afghanistan for over 40 years, and we’re not going to stop now. As our teams get back to work providing children and their families in Kandahar with life-saving health and nutrition services, we hope to resume operations in other parts of the country as soon as we can.
In the U.S. we have expanded our relief programs for Afghan children and families to include support in transit shelters in northern Virginia and Texas. Save the Children urges the U.S. Government to welcome more refugee families into the country, and continue to support our life-saving humanitarian work in Afghanistan.
Join Jen Garner to Help Afghan Refugees in the U.S.
Save the Children Trustee Jennifer Garner visited our programs at Dulles International Airport and a nearby temporary refugee shelter in northern Virginia where our teams are supporting the immediate needs of newly-arriving Afghan refugee children and families.
Almost 40% of Afghan refugees arriving at Dulles are children under 12. Many arrive exhausted and shivering, with nothing but the clothes they are wearing.
Afghanistan is one of the worst places in the world to be a child. Families who try to flee to safety are facing unimaginable horrors. All children have a right to live in a world free from violence. You can help by contributing to our Afghanistan Crisis Children's Relief Fund.
As the national leader in protecting children in emergencies, Save the Children has established a safe play and activity area for kids at a temporary shelter in Texas and northern Virginia, where kids can have a moment to be kids again, begin to express themselves and cope during this scary and stressful time.
In addition, our emergency response staff has helped set up a private space for families with small babies, where parents and caregivers can change diapers and breastfeed their children.
We also stand ready to support at other temporary shelters opening up across the country to support refugee children and families, as well as provide essential child-focused items, including hygiene kits, diapers, wipes and COVID-prevention materials.
We're working to provide children and families in Kandahar with life-saving health and nutrition services
Save the Children has been helping families in Afghanistan since 1976.
There has never been a more important time to affirm our dedication to the Afghan people and our commitment to stay and deliver.
In mid-September, we restarted our life-saving services in ;Afghanistan’s southern city of Kandahar. After carrying out thorough security checks, we can now ensure that both male and female staff will safely be able to return to work delivering essential health and nutrition services for children.
The recent escalation in violence in Afghanistan forced Save the Children to suspend our programs in the country in mid-August.
The Challenges for Children in Afghanistan
There is not a single child in Afghanistan today that has not grown up amidst conflict.
Chronic conflict and political instability have strained Afghanistan throughout its modern history. Extreme natural disasters, especially droughts, have only made matters worse, thrusting the country's economy and infrastructure into ruins and its people into extreme poverty.
Afghanistan is among the worst conflict-affected countries to be a child. Tragically, millions of Afghan children are growing up in high-intensity conflict zones, forcing many families to flee. Over half of the world's refugees come from three countries – Afghanistan ranks second, at 2.7 million.
- 1 child in 16 dies before their 5th birthday, 3 times that of the U.S.
- 38% of children suffer from stunting due to malnutrition
- 42% of children are out of school, and 70% of girls (15+) struggle to read and write
- 21% of children are engaged in child labor, instead of learning
- 55% of people live in poverty
Our Results for Children in Afghanistan
Every child deserves to safely learn. But children in Afghanistan, like 13-year-old Mohammad,* face many grave threats on their way there and back. He was five years old when his family fled their home in Afghanistan.
- 376,000 children aided in crisis
- 241,000 children educated and empowered
- 93,000 children healthy and nourished
- 36,000 children protected from harm
- 187,000 children lifted from poverty
A History of Our Work for Children in Afghanistan
Thanks to your generosity, Save the Children has been a leading charity in Afghanistan since 1976, with the aim to ensure children can grow up healthy, educated and safe.
The targeting of nongovernmental organizations – such as the January 2018 attack on our office in Jalalabad – makes our work difficult and dangerous. So we’re bolstering our emergency preparedness and protection, ensuring systems are in place to keep our staff safe and continue our urgent work.
Together with local communities, government ministries and partners, we’re working to improve children’s physical and emotional health, nutrition, sanitation and hygiene, education, protection, food security and livelihoods.
We’re improving the delivery of crucial health and nutrition services to underserved communities. We’ve made great progress in leading community-based education, recognized as a key solution for out-of-school children. Protection remains central to our work, and we’re increasing the scope and quality of our programs. We reach hundreds of thousands of children through our humanitarian programs each year. And we continue to give children a voice to ensure that their rights, such as girls’ education, are guaranteed.
Here are some recent examples of our work:
A healthy start in life
- Save the Children is training health care workers and supporting government health initiatives
- In underserved communities, we’re supporting rural health centers and mobile health teams and raising awareness on proper health, sanitation and hygiene practices
- To treat malnourished children, we’re operating therapeutic feeding sites and providing nutrition education
- We recently integrated mental health support into our health and nutrition programs
The opportunity to learn
- We’re working with the education ministry to establish community-based and accelerated classes, with the goal of returning children to school by grade 7
- Through our community-based early childhood care and development centers, we’re supporting early cognitive development so crucial for lifelong learning
- We’re advocating for early education, and we were instrumental in drafting the first-ever national preschool curriculum
- We recently introduced our proven Numeracy Boost approach in multiple schools, including teacher training
- We provided training in vision and hearing screening, as well as in adapting classrooms to better serve children with disabilities
- We’re providing innovative information technology that allows teachers to share knowledge, experiences, challenges and best practices
Protection from harm
- We’re working to reduce the number of children involved in harmful child labor, improving access to protective environments and supporting youth and families by offering social services and vocational training
- We’re advocating for children’s rights and building the capacity for child protection at the government and community levels
- Our teams are actively engaging communities in changing behaviors and attitudes so children’s rights are observed and respected
- Through sponsorship, we collaborated with the government to develop the Child Rights in Islam handbook and engaged religious leaders to proactively promote child rights and protection
- We welcomed the endorsement by presidential decree of the Law for the Protection of Child Rights and continue to advocate for its implementation
How You Can Help Children in Afghanistan
You can create change that lasts a lifetime for children in Afghanistan – in so many ways.
Donate to the Afghanistan Crisis Children's Relief Fund
Donate to help provide desperately needed relief to Afghan children and families arriving in the U.S..
Sources: Facts and statistics have been sourced from Save the Children’s monitoring and evaluation experts, as well as our thought leadership publications, including our Global Childhood Report 2021 and Stop the War on Children 2020 report. Other sources include CIA World Factbook and BBC Country Profiles.
Photos: Anna Pantelia / GMU / Save the Children.
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