Save the Children calls on the UK Government to endorse a declaration on avoiding the use of explosive weapons in populated areas
KABUL, 23 November – New figures reveal the appalling cost of the decades-long conflict on children in Afghanistan, as Save the Children joins calls for increased humanitarian funding ahead of this week’s donor conference in Geneva. The charity is also urging the UK Government to stand up for children in Afghanistan – one of the most dangerous countries for children in the world – by committing itself and its allies and partners to avoiding the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
Between 2005 and 2019, at least 26,025 children were killed or maimed in Afghanistan – an average of five children every single day for the past 14 years[i].
Nine-year-old Shogofa* is from Fayrab province. She was critically wounded in a rocket attack on her home, which killed three of her siblings. She said, “Our house was destroyed. My three brothers were killed, and my hand was injured. I was crying and crying. We now live in a tent. I hope that there will be peace and we’re able to move home.”
Now the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated humanitarian need, especially for children. According to UN estimates, 7 million children[ii] need urgent help, but the UN’s humanitarian appeal for 2020 is less than half funded.
- Between 2017 and 2019, there were more than 300 attacks on schools, injuring or killing at least 410 students and teachers [iii]
- 3.7 million children, almost half of all primary school-aged children are out of school [iv]
- 93 per cent of late primary school-aged children are not proficient in reading [v]
- 60 per cent of school-aged children missing out on their education are girls [vi]
- Spending on education is presently 78 per cent less than the average for the South Asia region [vii]
- 14 million people, nearly 50 per cent of the country’s population, need humanitarian assistance [viii]
- More than 7 million children are at risk of hunger just this year [ix]
- 3 million children under the age of five suffer from under-nutrition [x]
- The UN’s humanitarian appeal is currently only 42 per cent funded [xi]
Chris Nyamandi, Save the Children’s Country Director in Afghanistan, said:
“Imagine living with the constant fear that today might be the day that your child is killed in a suicide attack or an airstrike. This is the grim reality for tens of thousands of Afghan parents whose children have been killed or injured.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has added to children’s misery and must be addressed with new funding. But as the humanitarian needs rise higher than ever, it is a struggle to secure the funds needed to help people.
“This week’s conference is a crucial moment for donor governments to reaffirm their support to Afghanistan and its millions of children, at a time when it is needed more than ever.”
Kevin Watkins, CEO of Save the Children UK said:
“As rich nations sit down to discuss Afghanistan’s future, we must keep the hopes and aspirations of Afghan children front of mind. They deserve a future free from violence, fear, and persecution.
“The UK must use its influence on the global stage to ensure Afghan children affected by explosive weapons have access to vital services to help them recover from potentially life-changing injuries. We call on the UK to endorse a political declaration on avoiding the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, and to make sure our allies follow suit.”
As the 2020 Afghanistan Conference begins in Geneva, Save the Children urges the international community to:
- increase funding for education, especially for girls, as well as protect the interests of people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.
- increase spending on public health to support children, many of whom are having to live with life-altering injuries due to being caught up in the conflict.
- work with the government of Afghanistan to ensure national laws related to the protection of children are fully resourced and rolled out nationwide.
- secure an enduring peace settlement so that future generations grow up free from the fear of violence and death.
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Photos by Jim Huylebroek: https://www.contenthubsavethechildren.org/Package/2O4C2SALU0BM
Photos by Jim Huylebroek: https://www.contenthubsavethechildren.org/Package/2O4C2SALUA9F
Photos by Jim Huylebroek: https://www.contenthubsavethechildren.org/Package/2O4C2SALUCRA
1x social media edit: https://www.contenthubsavethechildren.org/Package/2O4C2SAGYYLL
[i] Full report here.
[ii] OCHA: Afghanistan
[v] World Bank, “Afghanistan Learning Poverty Brief”, October 2019
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