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  AFGHAN REFUGEE CRISIS  

  Herat city, Afghanistan  

On Oct. 10, 2023, 21-year-old Asifa comforts her 2-year-old daughter, Asra, inside a temporary shelter at a UNICEF-supported transit center in Herat city, Afghanistan. 

She was just one of thousands who felt the 6.3-magnitude quake on Oct. 7. She helped rescue four people trapped under collapsed houses, including Asra. Her 9-month-old son did not survive. 

"We have food here, and blankets and water," she said. "But I don’t know what will happen to us. My whole village was flattened. Where will we go?"

© UNICEF/UNI450239/Phwitiko

Afganistan Top

AT A GLANCE

WHO

6.1 Million

Afghan
Children

WHY

Political unrest,
rights violation
and natural disasters.

NEEDS

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Food

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Water

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Medical Care

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Immunizations

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Education

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Child Safe Spaces

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Syria

THE CAUSE

Decades of natural disasters, political instability, and violent conflict, exacerbated by the recent Taliban takeover of the country.

Between military occupations, violent conflict, and government changes, Afghanistan has faced massive political instability in recent decades. Countless Afghan families face chronic poverty, with 82% of all households taking on mounting debt, food insecurity, and income reductions. The takeover of Afghanistan in 2021 by the Taliban, an oppressive fundamentalist group, brought severe restrictions on women’s rights and increased instability, violence and fear of persecution. To make matters worse, a number of deadly natural disasters struck the region in recent years and obliterated essential infrastructure across the country. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic severely worsened existing issues. Today, millions of Afghan families are displaced, mostly in Pakistan and Iran.

IMPACT ON CHILDREN

A third generation of Afghan children “born in exile”

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According to UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, “Afghanistan’s displacement crisis is one of the largest and most protracted in UNHCR’s seven-decade history” which means there is now “a third generation of Afghan children born in exile.

 

Between reduced infrastructure in host countries and constant displacement, many children in this third generation have difficulties accessing sustained education and proper healthcare.

 

Additionally, a staggering number of Afghan children face food insecurity and starvation. At the end of 2022, 875,000 children under 5 needed life-saving treatment for severe wasting, one of the most extreme and visible forms of malnutrition.

 

According to UNICEF, a projected 15.3 million children are in need of life-saving aid as they suffer from droughts, famine, and irreversible growth stunt.

THE CRISIS TODAY

Heading into its fifth decade, the Afghan refugee crisis is in dire need of support.

As of 2024, the UNHCR reports 6.4 million Afghans— 48% women and girls; 45% children —  are refugees or seeking asylum. This is in addition to the over 2 million internally displaced people — 49% women and girls; 58% children —  within Afghanistan.

 

In other words, nearly two-thirds of Afghanistan’s population is in need of humanitarian aid. The UNHCR is bolstering health care access to asylum seekers in Iran and building secondary schooling systems for refugee villages in Pakistan, but decreased funding makes it difficult to provide all the necessary aid Afghan refugee families need.

 

Aid workers and humanitarian organizations worldwide are advocating for more support and awareness about the crisis in Afghanistan.

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