A SKIBBEREEN woman and Unicef Ireland specialist has appealed for support for the one million children in Afghanistan who are at risk of dying from severe acute malnutrition.
Lydia McCarthy said that even before the recent escalation in conflict, Afghanistan was already one of the toughest places on earth to be a child.
‘Now we are seeing estimates that one million children are at risk of dying from severe acute malnutrition, unless they get urgent access to life-saving support,’ she said.
Unicef is warning that across the country, 10m children are in need of humanitarian assistance to survive. Over the past year, the situation has become even more desperate. Conflict, drought, and Covid-19 have collided to create an unprecedented humanitarian emergency.
‘For us, now is not the time to abandon the children of Afghanistan. In the past few weeks, the war has entered a new, deadlier and more destructive phase. To compound this, winter is on the horizon and we know children are at most risk from harsh winter conditions. Our absolute priority is to make sure we are there for children and I know our teams are determined to stay and deliver. We have 13 offices across Afghanistan and we are scaling up our lifesaving programmes for children and women – including through the delivery of health, nutrition and safe water to displaced families,’ said Lydia.
Unicef said immediate action was needed to protect the estimated 1m children who are projected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition over the course of this year and could die. Additionally, an estimated 4.2m children are already out of school, including 2.6m girls. Internal displacement has risen with more than 550,000 people currently displaced due to conflict, the majority of in recent weeks.
It is anticipated that the humanitarian needs of children and women will only increase over the coming months, and Lydia is calling on the Irish public to support their work.
‘I think everyone has been moved by the scenes we have recently witnessed from Afghanistan, and for me it is especially moving when you see donations come in from people in your home town. My work is to raise awareness of children’s rights and help people understand the difference they can make to children’s lives. I know our teams on the ground are incredibly thankful for every contribution, and we hope people in Ireland will continue to support our urgent life-saving work.’