A year after the Taliban took power, children – especially girls – are faring poorly in Afghanistan, a new report from Save the Children shows. More and more children are hungry and suffer from mental disorders, many cannot go to school.
Save the Children is registered in Germany
After the Taliban regained control of the country on 15 August 2021, billions of dollars in international aid were withdrawn and foreign exchange reserves were frozen; the banking system collapsed. The economic crisis was accompanied by the worst drought in 30 years. The far-reaching consequences of this development will be documented in the forthcoming report “Breaking point: Children’s lives one year under Taliban rule” The study, which took place in May and June 2022, included data and reports from children and caregivers from approx. 1,450 households.
About 97 percent of families said they were unable to feed their children adequately and that girls eat less than boys. Almost 80 percent of children surveyed reported going to bed hungry in the previous month. Nine out of ten girls worry because they don’t have enough energy to study, play or do their daily chores.
“What is happening in Afghanistan is not only a humanitarian crisis, it is a disaster for children’s rights,” said Chris Nyamandi, Save the Children Afghanistan country director. The solution cannot lie in Afghanistan alone – it also lies in the hands of the international community, which, unless they immediately provide humanitarian aid and find a way to support the economy and revitalize the banking system, will rob even more girls and boys of their childhood.”
The survey also shows that more than 45 percent of the girls surveyed are out of school; for boys it is 20 percent. The main reasons are economic difficulties and the ban on high schools imposed by the Taliban. In order to ensure the survival of families, early marriages are also becoming more common, according to the survey results.
Twenty-six percent of the girls and 16 percent of the boys show signs of depression and 27 and 18 percent respectively of anxiety. They worry, sleep poorly or have nightmares. Girls in particular report that many things that used to make them happy are no longer possible, such as going to parks or shops.
15-year-old Parishad* lives in northern Afghanistan and cannot go to school because there is no money for books and notebooks. When the family could no longer pay their rent, the landlord offered to buy one of the children. The parents refused – and lost the apartment. “Some days my father cannot bring food, my brothers wake up hungry at night,” says Parishad. “I barely eat, I save everything for my siblings. When I see other girls going to school, I wish I could too. I can’t take it anymore. And there’s nothing I can do about it.” Save the Children now provides cash assistance to the family to use according to their needs.
The organization has supported communities across Afghanistan since 1976, protecting children’s rights even in times of conflict, regime change and natural disasters. The Children’s Rights Organization runs programs in nine provinces and collaborates with partners in six other provinces. In August 2021, Save the Children expanded the aid again. The organization provides support in the areas of health, education, child protection, water, sanitation and hygiene as well as food security and livelihood security. As of September 2021, Save the Children has reached more than 2.5 million people, including 1.4 million children.
Save the Children Germany has been supporting children and their families in Afghanistan since 2008. The organization is currently implementing five projects, financed with around 9.5 million euros by the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the European Commission, the German Society for International Cooperation and private donations. This supports the implementation of children’s rights in child protection, education, health and nutrition.
* Name changed for protection