Faced with zero response, UNICEF renews appeal for 2.5 million drought-hit Afghans

7 November 2006

Faced with zero response to its most recent appeal to help 2.5 million drought-stricken Afghans, half of them children, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) issued an urgent appeal today for $3.8 million, warning that lack of water and food will exacerbate the outbreak of disease and malnutrition among the young.

Faced with zero response to its most recent appeal to help 2.5 million drought-stricken Afghans, half of them children, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) issued an urgent appeal today for $3.8 million, warning that lack of water and food will exacerbate the outbreak of disease and malnutrition among the young.

“While Afghanistan is struggling to set up infrastructures and put systems in place in a sustained developmental approach to remedy the destruction caused by more than two decades of conflict, crucial areas requiring urgent humanitarian assistance still remain,” UNICEF said in its latest donor update for the country.

The drought has affected the north, northeast, west and southern provinces. Moreover, the conflict in the south has uprooted more than 20,000 families from their villages, leaving them in need of humanitarian aid.

In July, the Government and the UN Country Team launched the Afghanistan Joint Drought Appeal covering six month till December, in which UNICEF requested $2.5 million.

Due to the deterioration in the situation both from the drought and renewed fighting, the appeal was extended up to April and UNICEF requested an additional $3.8 million on top of the original request of $2.5 million.

“No commitment has been made in response to the last appeal,” the agency said.

Afghanistan’s infant mortality rate is already estimated at 165 per 1,000 live births and its maternal mortality ratio, at 1600 per 100,000 live births, is one of the highest in the world.

With the country also facing some of the world’s worst child health indicators – about 600 children under the age of five die every day from mostly preventable causes – the UN World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with the Health Ministry, is training nearly 80 doctors and nurses from the north, northeast and central provinces on managing such illness, as well as 20 others from central and southeast provinces on treating severe malnutrition.

Meanwhile the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that some 100,000 Afghans in Pakistan have so far been registered in the first two weeks of the largest such operation that the agency has been involved in. There are some 2.4 million Afghans who fled decades of war still living in Pakistan, even after more than 2.8 million returned home over the last five years, many with the agency’s help.

Of those remaining, 1 million still live in camps and more than 1.4 million in urban areas. The registration will give a clear profile of areas of origin, education and skill levels, special needs and intention to return. It will serve to help UNHCR and the Pakistani and Afghan Governments to find a durable solution to the protracted situation.

 

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